Pothole compensation bill in West Sussex is £26,000 and rising

THE latest pothole compensation bill is already more than £26,000, the Observer can reveal, and that could be the tip of the iceberg.

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) received 407 claims in 2012 from people which the county council says relate only to motor vehicles.

Watch out for deep potholes in the Midhurst area.''Photo by Louise Adams C130023-2 Mid Potholes

Watch out for deep potholes in the Midhurst area.''Photo by Louise Adams C130023-2 Mid Potholes

But the council says it has so far only paid out on 78 of the claims from January to December, 2012, and the total bill for these claims is already £26,254.89.

It seems likely the bill is set to rocket sky high if many more of the outstanding claims are successful.

The revelations come in the wake of news that between 2009 and 2011 3,004 people made claims against the county council for damage.

Only 669 were lucky enough to get any money.

Even so, the county council was forced to pay out a total of £742,048.88.

Many other people who have claimed over the years have lost their cases after the widely criticised so called ‘get out’ clause was invoked allowing officers to stonewall claims quoting section 58 (i) of the Highways Act.

The act provided them with a statutory defence against claims.

The county council’s pothole nightmare has been exacerbated by long spells of freezing weather.

In the three months between October, 2010, and January, 2011, a staggering 5,082 potholes were identified and the nightmare returned to haunt the county council once again this year. County said it had used £500,000 of the £8.25m taken from reserves as part of Operation Watershed to tackle potholes this year.

This is in addition to the potholes which Balfour Beatty was contracted to repair each year.