Pothole compensation revealed as £0.5m cuts proposed

Over £14,000 has been paid out in compensation to drivers whose cars were damaged by Argyll and Bute’s roads in the last five years.

The figures were released under the Freedom of Information Act following last month’s council budget, which saw spending in all areas cut by £42m over seven years.

Staff in the roads and amenities department were warned in January that spending would be cut and compulsory redundancies were possible.

And on Monday a working group will be asked to approve cuts of £255,000 in the roads operations budget for 2013/14 – and the same amount the following year.

A report to the meeting notes that there will be a reduction in staffing and service levels, stating: “This will result in a reduction in the level of planned roads maintenance undertaken and a reduction in winter maintenance and severe weather resilience.”

Rocky road - many streets in Helensburgh and the lochside villages are plagued by potholes
Rocky road – many streets in Helensburgh and the lochside villages are plagued by potholes

A total of £1,426.06 compensation was paid to drivers in 2008; the following year this rose slightly to £1,513.78.

There was a fall to £659,98 in 2010 but i2011 saw a dramatic rise in problems, with £6,726.58 being paid out after the coldest winter in many years led to ice damaging many roads. In 2012 the total was £14,521.69.

The biggest single payment was in June 2011 – £759.38 when a car’s front suspension collapsed, a tyre burst and alloy wheel was ruined by pothole damage in the Helensburgh and Lomond area.

A council spokesperson said: “Like every local authority, we face significant challenges in terms of how we manage our resources and what we prioritise.

“ Our roads maintenance strategies prioritise those routes which are likely to contribute to economic growth and improved quality of life for the people of Argyll and Bute.

“Similarly our capital projects for the coming year have a clear and careful focus on improving transport infrastructure and meeting the needs of our communities.”

She added that residents could report problems on roads by calling 01546 605514 or emailing enquiries@argyll-bute.gov.uk .

There is also a dedicated road faults reporting page on the council  website  and a similar service is available on Argyll and Bute Looking Local, which can be used from smart phones.

The local figures are low compared to the rest of Scotland the UK; last year a survey by Britannia Rescue found that Surrey County Council had paid out over £630,000 between 2010 and 2012, with the highest figure in Scotland being £37,000 paid by Aberdeen City Council.

Advice on how to claim compensation is available on the Which website and potholes.co.uk.


  1. Perhaps ABC’s dismal performance at road repairs is due to luddism; automated spray application machinery for asphalt repairs has been available for over a decade, yet I’ve never seen one in the UK, never mind Argyll. Instead of a 4-5 man crew filling a dozen holes in a day manually, 2 blokes could fill more than twice that in a day. Harking back to the good old bad old days when the peninsula had its own ‘road man’ is possibly unrealistic, but given the quantity of potholes and damaged road surface about to blossom into potholes in ABC and the failure to keep up with repairs even in times of financial plenty, a new paradigm needs to be sought and maybe such a machine can be part of that.

  2. 2 points:
    1 Why on earth do they still bother with that surface dressing nonsense which is patently a waste of time?
    2 Which do people want? A council tax freeze for however many years it is, or roads that are safe? It isn’t the council’s fault that they have no money. But the desks chairs and tables for the chamber are another issue.

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