Tuesday, 18 February 2020
A MAN is demanding compensation after his car hit a pothole, causing up to £2,000 in damage.
Lee Hall, of Trust Corner, Henley, says Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has refused to offer him a settlement even though the hole in Gillotts Lane had been reported more than a week earlier.
He was driving up the hill towards Henley when he felt his Volkswagen Golf shudder and heard a loud bang but didn’t know what had happened.
He got out of the car to look for damage and saw the pothole, which he measured and found was 8cm at its deepest with steep edges. Both alloy wheels on the passenger side of his car had buckled and the front tyre had burst.
Mr Hall, 29, a self-employed groundworker, said: “The bang was so loud that I thought something in my car had blown up, especially as it’s quite low-slung with firm suspension.
“I couldn’t believe how bad the damage was, so I took a closer look at the pothole and was amazed at how deep and sharp it was. It’s no wonder that it completely wrecked the wheels.”
The car was towed to a garage in Binfield Heath where mechanics told him at least three other vehicles had been damaged by the same pothole.
The Golf’s wheels were an after-market modification so he reattached the originals. Each alloy wheel costs £1,000 and one is definitely broken while the other might be repairable.
Mr Hall said he would pay for new ones as he doesn’t want to claim on his insurance and lose his no-claims bonus.
The pothole has since been filled but Mr Hall said he was told it had been reported to the council on December 22.
It was inspected only a few hours before he hit it on New Year’s Eve but no markings were painted around it.
The council says the pothole was reported online but should have been reported by phone because it was more serious.
Had this been done, it would have been inspected sooner. It says it inspects the roads every six months and the pothole wasn’t there when Gillotts Lane was checked in August.
Mr Hall said: “The council says there’s not enough evidence that they’re liable, which is ridiculous. They were told the pothole was there but didn’t even mark it until January 3.
“I’ve sent them photographs but apparently that’s not good enough. They might well examine the roads every six months but plenty can happen in that time.”
The county council says drivers don’t have an automatic right to compensation and are only eligible if they can prove that it failed to fix potholes within a “reasonable” time of being informed.
In a letter to Mr Hall, it said: “The last statutory inspection of this road took place on August 1 at which time no defects were identified.
“The defect at this location was reported online… please note, however, that advice given on [our] website clearly indicates that urgent enquiries should be reported over the phone.
“The location was inspected on December 31, at which time defects were identified.
“Unfortunately, your accident occurred before the council completed the repair.”
12 February 2020
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