Trips, falls and damage to property cost cash-strapped council chiefs over a quarter of a million pounds in compensation payouts, last year.
Figures revealed by South Tyneside Council, after a Freedom of Information request, show that the local authority paid out £254,215 to members of the public in compensation clims.
The highest claim settled was £54,513 while the lowest was £11.
Meanwhile, council employees who suffered a personal injury while at work were awarded a total of £386,130 in payouts, with one claim being for £313,714.
While the figures - for the financial year from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 - have been described as “extortionate” by the council’s only opposition councillor, Coun Lee Hughes, they are a dramatic reduction in the cash paid out to claimants the previous year.
Council figures show that, in the 2014/15 financial year, £714,913 was paid out to employees and £1,119,484 was paid out to members of the public.
This is a huge amount of money which has been paid out over the years in compensation claims, when the council are struggling financially.Coun Lee Hughes
In that year the highest payout to an employee was £231,722.
The highest claim paid out to a member of the public was £115,541. The lowest claim paid was £14.
Coun Hughe, Independent Putting People First, said: “These figures are extortionate.
“This is a huge amount of money which has been paid out over the years in compensation claims, when the council are struggling financially.
“The council have a duty of care to its residents and workers. If they exercised that duty of care more deligently, we wouldn’t have such high figures.
“It is, however, good to see the figures dropping.”
A spokeswoman for the council said: “Every claim we receive is investigated thoroughly in order to establish if a failure has occurred and whether lessons can be learnt.
“The council only settles claims where liability has been established.”
She added: “We continue to monitor and manage the risk of accidents across the borough to help us reduce these figures further.”
In recent years the cash-strapped council has been forced to shed jobs and review a number of its services in a desperate bid to save money.
This included introducing green bin waste charges, pulling funding from community centres to make them self-sustainable, increasing council tax and closing disability support centres.