Potholes – everyone in Bridlington knows how bad they are, but not a single driver has managed to get compensation for damage to their car in the past five years.
Hitting a pothole can set motorists back hundreds of pounds, but mechanics say those affected are being put off from trying to get money back because the process is so difficult and the chances of winning are virually zero.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Free Press asked East Riding of Yorkshire Council how many claims for compensation, due to damage caused by potholes on roads in Bridlington, had been successful in each of the past five years. We also asked what the single highest payout had been in that time. But the council confirmed all of the 11 claims had failed.
To win, motorists must prove the council failed in its duty to maintain the highway.
Bridlington businessman Chris Thomas said he was not surprised as he knows how difficult it is to make an appeal. He hit a pothole near Londesborough as he drove home from a holiday, and said he was now “really wary” of lightning striking twice.
“It damaged the two nearside wheels and we had to get the RAC to tow us home at 2am,” said Chris.
“It was a public road and I took photos and even went back the next day and took more, but they had already started filling it in. I kept getting on to the council but they said it wasn’t their responsibility.”
“I got into correspondence but my solicitor said I was wasting money. Who is going to spend a grand on a solicitor on the off chance of getting the money back?”
It was a view echoed by mechanic Paul Jones, who works at Andy’s Tyres and Auto Centre at Bessingby.
He said they regularly fixed damage caused by potholes, and also discovered hidden problems during MoTs which could have been triggered by going over a pothole several months earlier.
Paul added: “With things like this, wheel rims and tyres, it doesn’t take long before you get up to £400 or £500,” warned Paul.
“But people are saying they don’t know anybody who has got any money back.
“It’s your word against theirs.”
Paul admitted: “Eight out of 10 people who come in with problems caused by potholes mention Bempton Lane.
“They need to do something about it, there are enough people complaining.
“I’m an ex-HGV driver and have driven all over the country but Bridlington’s are the worst roads of the lot.”
In response, East Riding of Yorkshire Council said it spent millions of pounds every year repairing roads around Bridlington.
A spokesman said: “We have a huge programme of surface dressing works which take place every year from May to mid-August, costing millions of pounds and covering 650,000 square metres of road across the East Riding, the equivalent of 60 miles of continuous road.
“In Bridlington alone, £6.48million has been spent on highways maintenance works over the past five years and this doesn’t include the town centre work currently taking place as part of the Bridlington Integrated Transport Plan.
“The council has a duty to maintain the safety of the travelling public and all roads are subject to periodical safety inspections during which any defects that present a danger or serious inconvenience to road users are identified for repair.
“We strive to complete permanent pothole repairs in one visit, however this is not always possible due to factors such as weather and traffic.
“If a resurfacing programme is planned for that particular road we may carry out a temporary repair until the permanent work can be carried out.
“Residents can report potholes to us via the council’s website www.eastriding.gov.uk - just search for ‘potholes’ and fill in the form online.
“Each claim for compensation is assessed on an individual basis.
“For claims of this nature to succeed the claimant would need to prove that the council is in breach of its statutory duty to maintain the highway.”