In a hole: car claim hits legal roadblock

Ian and Pauline Mclean.whoe car was damaged by Sheffield's potholes
Ian and Pauline Mclean.whoe car was damaged by Sheffield's potholes
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IT’S not so much a pothole, more a high kerb with a sharp edge - no wonder it caused more than £700 damage to Pauline and Ian McLean’s new car.

But as well as bending wheel rims and puncturing two tyres, this growler on Robin Lane, Beighton, has sparked a row over liability.

The incident at 4.50pm on January 14 occurred just seven hours inside the six-month deadline for Sheffield Council to inspect the road and establish a legal defence that slammed the door on their compensation claim.

The McLeans, of Ralston Croft, Halfway, were told the road was last inspected on July 14 2010, which meant the authority had met its six-monthly inspection schedule.

Ian, aged 64, said: “Pauline had her grand-daughter and her friend in the car with her at the time and she was only doing about 20mph. We’d only had the car six months and it cost £12,000.

“I know the council is short of money, but we didn’t create the system and this is a genuine claim.”

Sheffield’s potholed roads have long been among the worst in the country.

But while claims for damage have gone up, payouts have gone down.

In 2009 there were 113 claims for vehicle damage and 29 payouts totalling £8,700.

In 2010 claims rose to 200 but the number of payouts fell to just 18, totalling a miserly £3,230.

In a recent letter to the McLeans, council leader Paul Scriven said the authority was not liable because the last inspection of Robin Lane was less than six months earlier.

He added: “I therefore have no alternative but to reaffirm there is no evidence the council is legally liable in this instance and therefore the initial decision to decline your claim remains.

“Whilst I regret that you have suffered inconvenience and expense, Street Force have carried out their obligations in line with legal guidelines.”