Compensation for pothole damage on Wigan roads drops

A pothole on a Wigan street
A pothole on a Wigan street

The amount of compensation Wigan drivers are receiving for pothole damage to their cars has plummeted, new figures show.

On average, motorists now receive only £58 from the local authority for damage to vehicles on the roads, a staggering drop of 90 per cent since 2013.

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At the same time, there has been a sudden spike in the number of people approaching the town hall for a pay-out, with 159 compensation claims lodged in 12 months between October 1 2017 and September 30 2018.

And despite only around one in five people getting any money back, that still meant there were 35 successful claims when there has only been a handful each year previously.

That also means the council had to dole out more than £8,000 in compensation, compared to less than £100 in the previous 12-month period.

Perhaps surprisingly the local authority hailed this as something of a success story, saying the reason payments have gone down is because ploughing cash into the borough’s road network now means serious damage caused to cars is much more rare.

Indeed, the most common complaint the town hall now has to fork out for is tyres being wrecked by holes in the road surface.

However, the council did acknowledge the most recent claim figure was unusually high and suggested severe weather conditions over winter was to blame.

The data, which was assembled by motoring industry organisation carwow through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, shows Wigan highways engineers have progressively done less repair work in recent years.

Between October 1 2017 and September 30 2018, for example, only 100 potholes were filled, compared to a high point of 340 in the same time period in 2015-16.

However, the number of compensation claims rocketed in the 2017-18 period, when there were more pothole-related incidents lodged at the town hall than in the two previous year-long periods put together.

The 2017-18 figure of 159 was almost three times larger than the 55 claims in the 2013-14 period and 51 in the same time in 2014-15.

The number of successful claims was also strikingly higher than in previous years, with just three payouts between October 1 2016 and September 30 2017 and none at all in the previous 12-month period, compared to almost three dozen recorded in 2017-18.

The cost to taxpayers was equally stark, with the town hall forking out £8,303.86 in the most recent 12-month period compared to £62 in the previous year.

However, in the 2013-14 period potholes caused an average £643.03 of damage to each car, around 12 times the amount the average case is currently setting council bosses back.

Mark Tilley, assistant director for infrastructure at Wigan Council, said: “Since 2013 we have almost doubled the amount we spend on maintaining our roads, going from £600,000 to more than £1.1m which has helped to improve the conditions of our road network.

“Last year was an exceptional winter which created additional pressures for our maintenance team which could have impacted on the number of claims received.

“The average claim that comes as a result of potholes is for a replacement tyre, which is why the average compensation payment is low.”