Hole load of road bother

Sarah Cutter's partner, Scott Gardner, indicates the site of the pot hole on the B6254 near Arkholme, which damaged the front wheel of her car.
Sarah Cutter's partner, Scott Gardner, indicates the site of the pot hole on the B6254 near Arkholme, which damaged the front wheel of her car.

A Kirkby Lonsdale woman who hit a pothole as she was driving along a road in Arkholme said the county council has refused to accept liability for the damage to her car.

Sarah Cutter said the smash on January 2 was like hitting a kerb at 50mph, and damage to her Audi A4 included burst tyres and smashed and buckled wheels, estimated to cost around £2,000.

Sarah, who works in care homes, said she was coming back from a meal in Barton to celebrate her engagement.

She said: “I hit it at around 8.30pm on the main road through Arkholme, straight after the turning for Locker Lane.

“We were just driving along, and then there was a great big bang and pop.

“The car bounced along the road, and shot out to the right.

“It was like hitting a kerb at 50mph.

“When I got out to have a look the wheel had smashed and the tyres had popped. The back wheel had buckled as well.

“We called the Highways Agency, who diverted us to the police, and the police came out from Morecambe.

“When I spoke to someone from Highways, they said they wouldn’t accept liability, and we were told it’s just that time of year and it can’t be helped.

“It’s going to cost just short of £2,000 for a replacement set of wheels.

“I’d have to pay an excess and I’d lose my no claims, but why should I put it on my no claims?

“I want to know how many other people have experienced similar problems with this pothole.”

Phil Barrett, director of Lancashire Highway Services, said: “We take all civil claims seriously, including those from motorists who claim their car has been damaged because of a pothole.

“We deal with all claims as quickly as we can but in some instances, as in this case, we need further information before a decision can be made on liability. We’ll make a decision once we’ve received all the relevant information.

“We take safety on our roads very seriously and regularly inspect for any potentially dangerous defects, as well as responding quickly to carry out repairs to potholes reported by members of the public.”

Engineering consultancy company WSP said that the traditional approach by councils of carrying out emergency repairs immediately with permanent repairs scheduled later is not cost-effective in the long run.

Brian Ives from WSP said: “Reactive maintenance to provide quick fixes for potholes can be up to 20 times more expensive than planned maintenance works.

“There are also hidden costs associated with delaying repairs, such as compensation claims from motorists seeking to recover the cost of vehicle damage to wheels, suspension or windscreens, which are an added drain on Local Authority resources. Further, unplanned traffic management while pothole repairs are carried out can affect thousands of motorists.”