Wilford: Councillor bills own authority for pothole damage

Cllr Andrew Reid

Cllr Andrew Reid

A SUFFOLK county councillor has come under fire for claiming compensation from his own authority after a pothole damaged his car.

Andrew Reid, Conservative councillor for Wilford division, which extends from Woodbridge to Bawdsey, has asked the county to pick up the bill for damages caused by the broken road surface on his drive to work.

When asked about the claim, Mr Reid said: “I have indeed made an application. I have done so as a private individual claim for damage incurred on my way to work.”

The company director, who helped secure £75,000 safety improvements to the Bromeswell/Hollesley junction, would not confirm the value of the claim or divulge where in the county the damage happened.

A council spokesman said Mr Reid was entitled to go through the compensation process, which is open to all members of the public. But consumer campaigners have criticised the claim as “unnecessary and costly”.

Eleanor Mc Grath, campaign manager for the TaxPayers’ Alliance pressure group, said: “It is the Council’s failure to keep the roads in a good state of repair which leads to taxpayers footing the bill for these compensation claims.

“Suffolk residents could be forgiven for concluding that councillor Reid effectively has his friends in the Conservative administration at county hall to blame for the damage to his car.

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“Councils must ensure that roads are kept up-to-scratch to save unnecessary and costly pay-outs of taxpayers’ money.”

Yesterday, The EADT reported that an extra £3million of Government money will be spent on the county’s crumbling and potholed roads following damage caused by rain, snow and ice.

The AA revealed that insurance claims for pothole-related damage on Britain’s roads more than doubled in January compared to the same month last year, with an estimated 1,000 cars left seriously damaged and a third of almost 23,000 surveyed AA members suffering some damage to their vehicle.

Suffolk County Council paid out £359,325 in compensation for damage caused to vehicles by potholes in 2008/09. The figure fell to £212,812 the following year, and dropped below £200,000 in 2010/11.

A spokesman said all members of the public could make a claim for compensation by informing the council of the location and time of the incident, and by providing any supporting evidence. He added: “This is the process for people to claim compensation when their vehicles are damaged by a pothole. It is open to any member of the public.”