Surge in Norfolk compensation pay-outs for damage caused by pot-holes

Pot-holes led to nearly £120,000 in compensation. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY.

Pot-holes led to nearly £120,000 in compensation. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHI

Compensation paid out because of damage caused by pot-holes on Norfolk's roads over the past two years was almost double the previous four years put together.

New figures have revealed councils in our region paid out more than £900,000 in compensation in 2015/16 and 2014/15, with almost £120,000 of that paid by Norfolk County Council because of pot-hole damage.

The amount the council paid out for pot-hole damage surged from £67,944 for the four years from 2009 to 2014 to just under £120,000 over the past two years.

The council, which says it repairs 10,000 pot-holes annually, identified £1.2m from this year's budget for pothole repairs. In 2014/15, the figure was £1.25m.

And there was a boost when the government announced in April that Norfolk would get an extra £1.6m.

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But, with an estimated £72m needed to cover Norfolk's highways maintenance backlog, the funding was described at the time as 'a drop in the ocean' by councillors.

And the council, looking to save money as government funding is squeezed, is spending more on patching - a temporary measure to fill pot-holes - with £7.4m earmarked for that in 2015/16 compared to just over £7m the previous year.

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The compensation figures were obtained using the Freedom Of Information Request and showed there were more than 3,150 compensation claims made to councils.

Another notable compensation payment by Norfolk County Council was £85,000 paid because of 'child protection issues'. A council spokesman said that related to a historical child protection case dating back to the 1990s.

He said 'When the matter was raised with us many years later, we agreed, having reviewed the evidence, that handling of the case in question should have been better.'

One of the council's own staff was paid £3,125 after they tripped on an uneven paving slab at County Hall and suffered a facial injury.

A council spokesman said: 'We take any claims made against Norfolk County Council very seriously.'

They said every claim was carefully investigated.

He said: 'We do this because we have a duty to council taxpayers to ensure that the limited public funds are used effectively.

'When mistakes occur, we will meet our responsibilities.

'However, denial rates are currently in the top quartile and compare favourably with other local authorities and industry standards.'

The biggest payment in our region was by Waveney District Council.

The council last year paid £105,283.16 to a former painter and decorator who developed asbestos-related disease mesothelioma after working on empty council houses.

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