Councils cut pothole compensation in West Yorkshire

Image caption,
Councils across West Yorkshire have reduced their compensation bills over the last three years

Councils in West Yorkshire have cut the amount of compensation paid out to aggrieved drivers over pothole damage, BBC research has revealed.

Leeds City Council reduced its pay-out bill from £1.63m in 2008 for highway maintenance to £408,848 by 2009.

Over the past three years Calderdale Council paid out the least in claims spending £76,076 between 2008-11.

Leeds and Calderdale Councils declined to comment about the results of the Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The survey showed Leeds City Council has so far paid out £454,727 on compensation claims this year, although not all claims have been settled.

No budget has yet been set for 2011-12 but the council is trying to tackle a funding black hole of £90m. Some £25.91m was spent on highways maintenance in 2009-10 but this fell to £24.12m in 2010-11.

'Robust inspections'

Responding to the FOI request, Calderdale Council said in 2008-09 it paid out £33,268 for 39 claims, the following year 43 claimants received £19,857 between them and in 2010-11 £22,951 was paid out to 31 people.

While other councils have reduced their budgets for highways maintenance Calderdale Council increased its budget from £7.62m in 2009-10 to £9.73m in 2010-11 although it is not yet known how much it will receive for 2011-12.

Image caption,
Kirklees Council says it is trying to repair as many potholes as 'physically possible'

Wakefield Council has also made a reduction in compensation pay-out reducing it by £271,04 between 2008-11.

In 2008-09 the council paid £365,090 to complainants but in 2010-11 it paid out just over £10,000.

Graham West, Highways Network Manager said the council operated a "robust safety inspection regime" across the district meaning "repairs are usually undertaken before accidents occur".

He added: "The actions we have taken to keep the district safe have had a significant impact and allow our small team of claims investigating officers to defend third party claims made against us."

Mr West added that the council was using £500,000 for more permanent surfacing work on the most badly damaged roads.

Kirklees Council also reduced its compensation pay-outs from £64,133 in 2008-09 to £22,230 in 2010-11.

The council said that between December and February it repaired more than 3,500 potholes and was working as quickly as "physically possible" to repair 10,000 by the end of March.

Bradford Metropolitan District Council said it paid out £7,500 in compensation in 2009-10, a reduction of £51,200 from pay-outs in 2008-9.

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