Oxfordshire County Council's pothole payments double

Oxfordshire County Council paid out more than £87,000 for pothole-related claims in 2009-10 - more than double the amount it paid out a year earlier.

The BBC has learned the Conservative-run authority also had to find an extra £1.23m to fix damage to roads caused by "extreme weather" in the same period.

The "managed overspend" was in addition to its £4.56m pothole budget.

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

The county council said it paid out £87,606 for incidents which occurred during 2009-10 but paid out £40,019 in 2008-9.

The council said it had so far paid almost £33,000 for claims for the current financial year.

The payouts come despite the council spending £5,794,000 on patching potholes and winter road damage, £1,234,000 more than it initially earmarked. The remaining cash came from savings elsewhere in the highways service.

Despite the overspend, the county council cut its budget for potholes and patching in 2010-11 to £3.25m after securing a new contractor with a different pricing agreement.

Councillor Rodney Rose, lead member for transport at the council, said: "Our new highways contract, which has got a 20% cheaper rate than we've been paying in the past, puts us back into doing the amount of work that we would have expected to do in past years despite the budget problems.

"Our focus is on resurfacing - it may be on small sections of road but it's better to it that way than just sweep and brush a bit of tarmac into a hole."

Earlier this month Oxfordshire councillors voted through plans to save £119m over the next four years with £55m worth of savings this 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.

Mr Rose said the county council would expect to receive about £1m from the government funds.

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