Only 19 per cent of pothole damage claims paid out by North Yorkshire County Council

Just 19 per cent of compensation claims made for pothole damage in North Yorkshire were paid by North Yorkshire County Council, according to figures from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

By Corinne Macdonald
Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 2:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 2:09 pm
Poor road surface in Scarborough. (JPI Media/ Richard Ponter)
Poor road surface in Scarborough. (JPI Media/ Richard Ponter)

The latest figures available show that in 2019, of 142 claims made to the council for pothole damage, only 27 were paid and the rest denied.

The year before in 2018, just 14 per cent of claims were paid.

Legal claims

By law, the county council has to maintain all roads for which it is responsible.

However, if a motorist makes a claim for personal injury or vehicle damage, they must prove the road had not been maintained properly and that was the direct cause of the incident.

By law, NYCC does not have to compensate claimants if it is able to demonstrate it took all reasonable steps to ensure the road was safe.

Richard Marr, the county council’s highways area manager, said: “To maintain the county’s roads, we have a robust highways inspection policy that exceeds national standards.

“All claims are fully investigated and, as a result, we are able to successfully defend the vast majority of claims for compensation.”

Between 2018 and July 2021, North Yorkshire County Council received 1,339 reports of potholes on roads in the Scarborough district, the fourth highest of the seven districts across the county.

What do roads cost the county council?

The FOI also revealed the cost of maintaining Scarborough’s roads.

In 2020/21, £1,456,453 was spent maintaining and repairing Scarborough’s roads, which make up 13 per cent of the county’s network.

Road maintenance is funded by both capital directly from central government, and revenue funding, which comes from a combination of sources including, but not exclusively, council tax.

Revenue funding is spent on routine and reactive maintenance such as grass cutting, winter maintenance and programmed and emergency repairs whereas capital funding relates to planned maintenance across the county each year.

Barrie Mason, North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director for highways, said: “We have highways offices based in each district or borough area. These are led by people who know the road network and the area in great detail.”

How the money is shared out

When looking at the amount of revenue funding spent in each district per capita, Scarborough had the third lowest spend based on its population size, receiving £13.39 per person compared with Ryedale which saw £21.06 per person.

In Selby the figure was £10.27 per person.

Mr Mason explained: “Revenue funding is allocated based on network length and not by population.

“Ryedale has a larger carriageway than Selby by 540km, which is an additional 57 per cent of Selby’s current network length.

“However, Harrogate and Scarborough districts have large urban centres and therefore receive a larger revenue funding allocation.”

In 2020/21 NYCC’s capital funding spend was £48.4 million across the county.

Missing out on government money

North Yorkshire County Council has been unsuccessful in a bid for funding from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The DfT announced a £15m package to improve traffic signals across the country with successful applicants receiving either £500,000 or £250,000.

All local highway authorities across England were invited to express an interest in a share of the funding.

North Yorkshire County Council’s bid was assessed along with the other applicants but was one of 61 authorities to be unsuccessful in meeting the criteria.

County councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “We have been very successful in making recent bids for funding from the DfT including £60m for the realignment of Kex Gill and £35m from its Transforming Cities Fund to enhance the gateways to Harrogate, Selby and Skipton.

“We are disappointed with the DfT’s decision on this occasion as we feel our bid was incredibly strong, however, I’m confident we will continue to make successful bids in the future.”

Pothole Watch campaign

In July of this year The Scarborough News launched our Pothole Watch campaign.

Roads around Scarborough are blighted by potholes and endless patching.

We vowed to challenge the authorities responsible for looking after our roads and to let them know the frustrations and concerns of our readers.

Since the campaign launched we have received assurances from North Yorkshire County Council that they are reviewing budgets to see if the resurfacing of Green Lane can be undertaken in their highways programme.

To have your say on the state of Scarborough’s roads email [email protected]