Pricey pothole hits taxpayers' pockets

FAILURE to spend £50 filling a pothole could end up costing Suffolk's taxpayers £150,000 - and throw the county's road maintenance plans into disarray, it is feared.

FAILURE to spend £50 filling a pothole could end up costing Suffolk's taxpayers £150,000 - and throw the county's road maintenance plans into disarray, it is feared.

Suffolk County Council lost its battle against driver Douglas Day who sued them for damages after he hit a pothole in Needham Street, Gazeley near Newmarket and his airbag went off leaving him with partial hearing.

At the Appeal Court on Friday, judges decided he could keep his £23,383 in damages and the county council should pay all legal costs, which are expected to be in the region of £150,000. A road contractor estimated filling a pot hole would cost £50.

But road chiefs at the county council warned of the possible implications of the ruling.

Guy McGregor, the county council's transport portfolio holder, said feared the council would have to carry out more reactive, on-the-spot, works at the expense of planned projects to avoid similar claims being made against the organisation in the future.

He said: “The council has a duty of care and it is very easy when the budgets are tight for maintenance to be neglected. If we don't have a proper maintenance regime to avoid situations like this you end up doing reactive work which is rather like putting fingers in dykes. That's why planned maintenance is so important.”

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