Durham County Council has seen a dramatic fall in the number of claims it receives for pothole damage, from a peak five years ago when it had nearly 500.
Data released in response to a Freedom of Information request shows that the council has so far had 78 pothole-related claims for 2017, and has paid compensation in relation to six claims.
Source: Durham County Council
This compares with 469 claims in 2013, when it paid compensation in relation to 24 claims.
In 2012, the council paid out £255,030 total compensation, including fees and disbursements, in relation to 20 successful claims out of 388.
Mark Readman, the council’s highway services manager, said: ‘The number of claims and amounts paid out need to be considered in the context of us having one of the largest road networks of any local authority in the country. We strive to maintain this network in as safe a condition as possible and prioritise investment accordingly.
‘Generally we have seen a reduction in both the number and amounts paid in recent years due to the continued high performance of our highway inspection and maintenance regime, which has helped us to have one of the best rates of councils across the country for defending claims.
‘In years where we experience severe winter weather, such as 2011, we do see a spike in claims as snow and ice naturally lead to increased numbers of potholes.’
The county was badly hit by the Beast from the East severe weather in March of this year. The previous month, Durham councillors had agreed to spend an extra £20m on road maintenance during this financial year, followed by £19.1m more in 2019/20.