Hailsham man’s pothole pain

The offending pothole
The offending pothole

A Hailsham man says he waited more than a year for a compensation claim for pothole damage to be resolved.

And when East Sussex County Council made a final decision it was to tell Keith Smith it was not legally responsible.

It was on December 29 2013 that Mr Smith suffered an instant blow-out of a good quality tyre bought only 13 days earlier.

He said he was travelling at around 40mph in his Mitsubishi Space Wagon when he hit the “large, deep pothole” at Catts Green on the B2089 – just a few hundred yards from the county council’s transport depot.

Mr Smith, of London Road, Hailsham, said, “The county council first told me that although they had inspected and recorded the hole a few days earlier, it was classed as one which they were not required to fix for up to six months.

“When I appealed and pointed out that such a classification could not be right due to the size of the hole and damage caused, they wrote back to me earlier this month [January 2015] and implied that I was the one who initially brought the pothole to their attention and therefore they had not been legally culpable.

“There is no further appeal and it took more than one year since I reported it to them to get to this point.”

He said the county council broke its own legal procedure target of 90 days to decide liability “by at least eight months.”

Roger Williams, head of highways, said, “Roads across the county are improving thanks to an investment of £55m in the three years from 2014.

“Last year we repaired 65,144 potholes – 900 more than the previous year, and now use a device called a Jetpatcher to enable us to fix potholes more efficiently.

“Every compensation claim made to the county council is carefully assessed. More than 70 per cent of claims are rejected because the council carried out its duty either by inspecting the road frequently enough or repairing the pothole quickly enough once we were informed of it. We would urge anyone who spots a pothole to report it directly to us either by contacting our call centre on 0345 60 80 193 or reporting online at eastsussex.fixmystreet.com”