North West Wales

Cyclist in court appeal over damages after pothole crash

Cyclist riding through pothole (generic) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Last year the UK government said it had given councils £3bn to maintain roads

A cyclist who was thrown from his bike after hitting a pothole is suing Gwynedd council for £50,000 damages.

Melvyn Griffiths, 56, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, who lost control and went over the handlebars, suffered head injuries and broken bones in the crash,

He has been granted permission to challenge a previous decision which blocked his bid for damages last year.

The case puts the legal spotlight on local authority duties to repair defects in the road.

Mr Griffiths has won the right to argue his case before three of the country's most senior judges at the Court of Appeal in London.

He received injuries to his back, knees and hand in the crash at rural village Croesor in May 2009. He had two broken bones and damage to his teeth as well as head injuries, causing tinnitus.

The court was told he had just crested a hill, when he swerved to avoid gravel and manure in the road. His front wheel went into a pothole and he crashed.

His counsel, Russell Moffatt, argued that the pothole was 80-100 millimetres deep and the council, as highway authority, had been legally obliged to repair it within 24 hours.

'Thumping down'

Mr Griffiths' front wheel had come "thumping down" the pothole's vertical edge as he hit it at an angle and the barrister argued that the council had breached its duty to maintain and repair the road under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980.

In December last year, Judge Anthony Seys Llewellyn absolved Mr Griffiths of council claims that he had ridden too fast down the hill.

But he dismissed the cyclist's damages bid, saying that the pothole was not dangerous and that a ruling in his favour would place too demanding a burden on local authorities to constantly repair defects, particularly on isolated rural roads.

However, Lord Justice Aikens, granted Mr Griffiths permission to challenge that decision.

The judge, who said he was a keen cyclist himself, ruled that Mr Griffiths had an arguable case that the pothole posed a foreseeable danger to road users and that the council had breached its duty in failing to repair it.

A date has yet to be set for the appeal hearing.

A Gwynedd council spokesperson said it would be inappropriate for the authority to comment on an ongoing legal matter.

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