THE number of pothole damage claims by drivers in South Tyneside has fallen.
Latest figures revealed by the RAC Foundation show that, in the financial year 2013/14, 72 motorists made a claim to South Tyneside Council for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes.
However, only 10 of the claims were successful, with a total payout of £2,796.
The figures showed that in the previous year 163 claims were made in the borough, but only 20 of those were successful, with a payout of £4,378.
Almost 50,000 drivers made claims against councils across Great Britain for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes in the last financial year.
Two hundred out of a total of 207 local highways authorities in England, Scotland and Wales responded to a Freedom Of Information request by the RAC Foundation which found they dealt with 48,664 compensation claims in the 2013/14 financial year.
However councils refused the majority of claims, agreeing to pay out in less than a quarter of cases with a total of £3.2m.
The average payout for a successful claim in 2013/14 was £286, down from £357 the year before, and the average administration cost of each claim – successful or not – was £147.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
“Many drivers will be put off by the time involved in claiming against a council, and many councils do their best to deter claimants coming forward.
“But the fundamental problem lies not at the doors of our town halls but with central government.
“Despite occasional one-off grants related to periods of harsh weather, they are simply not giving councils enough money to keep their road networks up to scratch.
“In England, local authorities themselves estimate the maintenance backlog to be about £12bn, yet over the past five years spending on all roads in real terms has dropped 22 per cent across England and Wales.
“Worn-out road surfaces do not simply cause damage to vehicles they are also potentially lethal, particularly for two-wheeled road-users.