RAC wades in on pothole legal row

.Jane Tramontana and Phillip Charles
.Jane Tramontana and Phillip Charles

A leading motoring organisation is calling on councils to have a more common sense approach to pothole damage compensation.

The RAC’s comments come after it read the Mail’s story last week about a Harborough couple’s year-long court battle victory to secure compensation from Northamptonshire County Council.

Jane Tramontana and Phillip Charles took the county council to court after Jane’s car hit a dangerous pothole in Sutton Bassett last January.

The council refused to pay up, but the couple fought the decision through the small claims court and won last month.

An estimated 10 vehicles hit the same pothole on the B664 on January 31 last year.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “It is appalling that so many motorists suffered damage because of this pothole which the local authority seemed unwilling to do anything about, despite pleas from car owners.

“It is right that motorists should be compensated for the damage their vehicles suffer because of potholes, and Jane and husband Phillip, should be applauded for their tenacity, but they should not have had to take this kind of action.

“A more common sense approach from the local authority and national agencies, would have been welcome and ultimately more cost-effective to the public.

“Wouldn’t it be far simpler for the authorities to look after the roads properly in the first place rather than having to pay out compensation, because that is going to be more expensive in the long-run.”

He said Britain’s potholed roads have led to the RAC seeing a 67 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of call-outs to vehicles likely to have suffered damaged due to poor road surfaces.

And there was also an extra 5,500 tyre call-outs in 2013 which indicates the quality of road surfaces was in part to blame, he added.

The Mail’s article was picked up by the national press last week and at one stage it was trending second-highest on the Daily Mail’s website, trailing only the story about the national flood devastation.