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Council facing pothole misery
11:00am Monday 19th August 2013 in News
POTHOLES are dropping cash-strapped Herefordshire Council deep into a legal mire with a backlog of around 700 compensation claims for damage – and more on the way.
The local authority confirmed this week that its contract partner Amey is already spending more than £250,000 each month repairing roads, with much of the work caused by potholes.
With such a huge backlog of pothole-related claims, just £1,200 has been paid out in compensation to motorists over the past 12 months.
Now the council is changing the way these claims are managed, with compensation requests going straight to a specialist insurance claims handler.
Previously, claimants would submit an online form, which would then be checked by Amey and passed to the claim handler – Gallagher Bassett – to determine whether the council was liable and how much it should pay.
Because of the current backlog of claims with Amey, and with the change of the highways contract in September to Balfour Beatty, Gallagher Basset has instructed Herefordshire Council to register all claims immediately with its assessers, rather than waiting for Amey to complete the investigation report.
In a statement, Herefordshire Council said this was to ensure “all claims are formally recorded and the insurance company informed”.
The statement continued: “Both Amey and Gallagher Basset have appointed additional resources in order to do this, which should speed up the process and help clear the backlog.”
Potholes aren’t just a local issue. There’s increasing evidence that the state of the county’s roads is keeping visitors away.
Margaret Wadley, aged 67, from Powys, said she would not be doing her shopping in Hereford for much longer because of the shocking state of the roads.
She said they were so bad that signs should be displayed warning drivers of the risks.
David Williams, chairman of Hereford Institute of Advanced Motorists, said the risks posed by potholes ranged from dips in a driver’s vision to “considerable impact” on wheel alignment.
“It’s frustrating, I’ve driven through Gloucester in the last few weeks and can’t say I had to think about potholes there.
“We have been up in Cumbria and don’t remember seeing a pothole anywhere there either,”
Last month, it was revealed that the council faced a £94 million bill for repairs to the county’s rapidly deteriorating roads, with cabinet agreeing to examine future funding models with a need for at least £20 million in upfront investment identified.
A total of £256,351 has been spent by Amey every month on repairing road faults, with the majority categorised as potholes.
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