COMPENSATION claims by drivers who blame roads in York for damaging their cars have risen by more than 400 per cent.
Figures published under the Freedom of Information Act have shown 70 claims were made against City of York Council by motorists in 2012/13, compared to 13 the year before, although the amount of compensation payouts fell last year.
The authority said 25 cases relating to incidents in 2012/13 remain open, as do 14 other cases. It spent £964,055 on fixing potholes in 2011/12, but dropped to £748,537 last year.
The council’s Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures, said the rise in claims was due to Labour reducing the road repairs budget.
Compensation payments last year totalled £333.85, while the 2011/12 figure was £1.455.60. The number of claims is not necessarily linked to the amount of compensation paid, as the authority may not be liable and payouts may be made in a different year to claims.
Carol Runciman, Lib Dem councillor for Huntington and New Earswick and who recently branded repairs to White Rose Avenue in her ward “inadequate”, said: “This case is indicative of a Labour council which has cut the road repair budget and has subsequently seen compensation claims over the state of roads rocket.
“Not only are these cuts an unacceptable attack on basic services, they are also a false economy.”
Andy Binner, the council’s head of highways, said the condition of all York’s roads was checked annually and repairs done based on these assessments, prioritised according to the seriousness of the problem.
“York has experienced some of the worst winter weather conditions in 30 years, which has seen an increase in the number of damaged footpaths and roads,” he said.
“The council takes every step necessary to ensure problem areas are identified and repairs carried out quickly so no delays occur.”
Mr Binner said all “immediate attention” repairs were done within 24 hours, and less urgent work was placed on a rota and completed within either three days, a fortnight or four weeks.
Coun David Levene, cabinet member for environmental services, said: “A case where an opposition councillor has made a subjective judgement that repair work looks inadequate does not mean it is.
“Compensation payments have actually fallen, showing the council is performing well on road repairs as we ensure roads and pavements remain a priority for this administration, some achievement with such heavy funding cuts.”
The FOI response also revealed that York may have an average of between 30 and 40 potholes which are “continually being repaired” at a time, and that ten claims for damage to cars on Moor Lane, in Murton, alone were received between December 23, 2012, and January 6, 2013