Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire County Council's pothole pay-outs double

Pothole
Image caption Claims for damage to vehicles can be made under highway laws

Pay-outs by Hampshire County Council for damage to vehicles caused by potholes almost doubled in a year, figures obtained by the BBC show.

The authority paid out about £111,000 in 2009/10 - compared to about £60,000 the year before.

The council blamed harsh weather conditions and said it was investing millions of pounds in repairing roads.

On the Isle of Wight, the council said the number of claims received rose from 157 to 419.

Although the amount paid out remained roughly the same, the authority added.

In Portsmouth, the city council has a long-term deal with contractors Colas to maintain the road network with the private firm liable for any claims.

'Future-proof roads'

The company said the roads had been well maintained and claims had been kept low.

Claims can be made under highway laws but councils can use a defence that they were not aware of the defect or could not have reasonably been expected to have carried out a repair.

Councillor Mel Kendal, member for the environment at Hampshire County Council, said: "We have about 5,000 miles of roads.

"We are spending about £10m a year, each year, for the next six or seven years and hopefully we can future-proof our roads.

"Obviously, I would like to get claims down to zero but £111,000 has to be put set against the figure of some £73m which we spent on roads and highways in the last 12 months."

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