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By <b>Gary Smee Friday 13 June 2014 Updated: 13/06 09:22
CASH strapped Worcestershire County Council has paid out almost £400,000 to people claiming for injuries, accidents and vehicle damage caused by defects on roads over the last five years.
The figures revealed a total of £393,949 had been shelled out since 2009 to 494 successful claimants - an average of £797 per person.
But the amount paid out over the last 12 months has fallen dramatically to just £9,449 from a peak of £155,000 in 2010/11.
Coun John Smith OBE, responsible for highways on the council, said he believed the reduction was due to the highways team’s focus on fixing more potholes and a campaign to get more drivers to report problems including oil spills and worn road markings.
A £3.5million project to improve almost 200 roads in Worcestershire is also under way.
“This is really a good news story, I’d go as far as to say it’s an excellent story,” Coun Smith said.
“These figures are obviously affected when we’ve got severe weather events, flooding etc, but is also influenced by the campaign this council has done with asking members of the public to report defects within the highways and we are really grateful.
“I think this is a fantastic result as far as the county council is concerned. We’re getting as many complaints but we are dealing with them effectively and efficiently.
“At first they were costing us £155,000 and now it is £9,000.”
A total of 2,531 claims have been submitted to the county council since 2009 with just under a fifth resulting in a pay out.
In 2013/14 just 49 out of 368 claims submitted were successful averaging a pay out of £193 per person, compared to 2010/11 when an average of £1,504 was paid per claimant.
But Coun Peter McDonald, leader of the Labour group on the council, said he believed the reduction in the cost was evidence of the council washing its hands of the problem and forcing people to go to other agencies to try and find a solution.
But Coun Smith said the figures could only be seen as positive news for the council.
“The number of claims has reduced and the cost has reduced which has got to be of benefit to the county council.”
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