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Pothole leaves driver out of pocket
Published 11/01/13

A DRIVER has been landed with a bill for hundreds of pounds after driving into a pothole on a country road.

Michael Bell had just left his home in Britwell Hill, near Britwell Salome, when he hit the crater.

The impact punctured the rear passenger side tyre of his £7,000 Jaguar X-Type estate and buckled the wheel so that it is irreparable.

Mr Bell fears the car’s suspension may also have been damaged in the accident, which happened on Thursday last week.

Although he has fitted an emergency wheel, he cannot drive over 50mph until it is replaced.

Mr Bell, who runs the Portobello Gold restaurant in Notting Hill, said: "I was going very slowly at the time because there was a car coming the other way and I was getting ready to pull over.

"When I hit the hole, the whole car shook and there was a bang as the tyre exploded. I had to limp home 200 yards and jump in my other car."

Mr Bell has made a claim to Oxfordshire County Council and criticised the authority for not having fixed the pothole.

This is the third time he has suffered damage to a car while driving in the area.

In 2006, he lost a wing mirror when he clipped an outstretched reflector pole near Ewelme.

The council denied responsibility for the damage and refused to pay his claim.

In 2010, the shock absorbers on his 1952 Buick were damaged when he drove over a pothole near Didcot. On that occasion, he did not make a claim to the council.

Mr Bell said: "The state of the roads around here is shocking — they’re so poorly maintained. I know people get flat tyres all the time from things like flint or glass, but that pothole is so deep it has got a cliff face.

"Nobody should have to pay £500 just for driving along the road where they live."

Although councils have a duty to inspect and repair roads, the law only demands that "reasonable steps" are taken to make them safe.

On its official claim form, Oxfordshire County Council warns drivers that "a majority of claims are turned down and successfully defended".

It says: "Inspections take place on a regular basis, usually according to the volume of traffic.

"For some rural routes, these inspections can occur every six months or even annually.

"Where the council has fulfilled its duty to inspect and repair, yet is unaware of the pothole and has not been notified, we will not be legally liable to pay compensation."

Published 11/01/13

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