Essex County Council in three-year low for admitting liability for pot hole compensation claims

Pothole road

Pothole road - Credit: Archant

County Hall admitted liability in less than one in ten claims for compensation by residents in relation to pot holes last year.

Despite the number of claims reaching a three-year high Essex County Council (ECC) defended more of them, according to a Freedom of Information request.

In 2011 there were 2,536 claims for compensation, and County Hall admitted 357 (14%) of them, while in 2012 the number of claims fell to 2,294 of which 301 were admitted by ECC as defects they were liable for, equating to 13%.

However last year despite the number of claims increasing to 3,396, ECC admitted liability in just 275 cases – 8% of them.

Eddie Johnson, county councillor for highways maintenance, said: “All compensation claims received by Essex County Council are investigated fully and damages are paid if the council is liable as the Highways Authority.

“ECC is doing its utmost to improve roads in the county and the latest stats show that potholes and cracks have reduced by over 80 per cent on Essex’s main roads since June 2014.”

Julie Young, leader of the Labour group at County Hall, said: “Essex residents should not be in a position where they are having to seek compensation from the county council.

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“Our roads should be in a condition so no-one comes to personal harm or have their vehicles damaged. If they were in a better state in the first place then we would not have so many claims.

“They pay out if it was inspected and not fixed, so what they are saying is ‘last time we looked at that stretch of road it was fine’, which a lot of people find hard to swallow.

“But there seems to be a very variable approach in the inspection regime.”