Berkshire

Wokingham council pays £40k for pothole road claims

Wokingham Borough Council paid out an average of £40,000 a year in compensation for potholes over the past three years, the BBC has learned.

The Conservative-led authority has also doubled the amount of money it will spend on resurfacing roads from £1.25m in 2010-11 to £2.5m in 2011-12.

The increase was agreed at a council budget meeting last week.

Transport councillor Keith Baker said the increase was possible because of the council's planning and prudence.

Mr Baker said: "We anticipated what was going to happen two years ago in terms of government cuts so we started on a programme so we would not have to cut front line services.

"With roads that need regular maintenance, all we did before was prioritise them in terms of how needy they were and drew a line across that list and repaired the ones at the top.

"Now we are going to move that line down and repair less serious defects, which is going to save money in the long run."

In 2009-10, Wokingham overspent on its general highways maintenance and has already spent £982,000 of this year's £1.1m budget.

The figures were released by the council following a Freedom of Information request by the BBC.

Conservative-led West Berkshire District Council also overspent its £2.2m highways maintenance budget in 2009-10 by £350,000. This year's spending was set at £2.5m. The council is due to decide the 2011-12 budget on Wednesday 3 March.

The authority, which is insured against highways related claims, said its insurance provider settled a total of six claims between April 2007 and March 2010.

Slough Borough Council paid out more than £27,200 in compensation claims for 2009-10, up on 2008-09 when the authority paid £16,200 to claimants.

Despite the payouts, the Labour-led council says it is confident its £4.25m highways budget for the coming year will be enough to maintain its roads.

Its budget has remained the same for at least two years.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, a Conservative-led authority, revealed its highways department had paid out £22,000 for two personal injuries in 2008-09 as well as five claims for vehicle damage totalling £1,095. During the last financial year it paid a total of £3,900 for 12 claims for vehicle damage.

Reading Borough Council, also led by the Conservatives, paid £25,000 in highways-related claims in 2009-10 and £26,000 in 2008-09.

Conservative-run Bracknell Forest Council said it paid out less than £3,700 in compensation in 2009-10 and paid £83 the previous year.

The government announced last week that it would make £100m available for councils to bid for if they felt they had been badly affected by potholes.

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