‘Compensation culture’ costs council chiefs £3m

Edinburgh City Council's seven-figure payouts has been seized upon as further evidence ofcompensation culture by the Tories
Edinburgh City Council's seven-figure payouts has been seized upon as further evidence ofcompensation culture by the Tories
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More than £3 million compensation has been paid by Edinburgh City Council for mishaps ranging from a firework blowing up in an individual’s hand to someone tumbling from a bike over the past five years.

The local authority’s seven- figure payout for a variety of slips and mishaps has been seized upon as further 
evidence of our spiralling compensation culture by the Scottish Conservatives.

The majority of the 1272 claims, amounting to £3,204,000, involved vehicle accidents, trips on pavements and potholes and problems with council housing.

East Lothian Council had paid out £777,000, Midlothian Council £1,061,000 and West Lothian Council £1,396,000, according to the freshly unearthed figures.

They were revealed as part of a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Scottish Conservatives, with spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell MSP brandng many of them “utterly ridiculous”.

One of the cases involved a man in Edinburgh who claimed £170,000 after a firework blew up in his hand.

A cyclist in the Capital who was hauled off his bike by an overhanging branch was given £4000, while a man who hit his head on a low ceiling was offered £2000.

Also in Edinburgh, a claimant received £20 after stones flew up from a road and marked his shirt, while another received £20 for ripping his jacket on a damaged bus timetable.

In Midlothian, a man who slipped in mud was awarded a £19,000 handout.

Ms Mitchell, the Conservative local government spokeswoman, said: “There are a range of examples here, from the very serious to the utterly ridiculous.

“It is right that when someone is injured, has their property damaged or is inconvenienced through no fault of their own, councils should pay up quickly and effectively.

“However, the sheer amount of cash involved here really points to the compensation culture in which we live spiralling out of control. Councils must be given the appropriate legal support when people make spurious claims.

“Clearly, with budgets tight it is neither sensible nor sustainable to be spending million of pounds every year on incidents which, in many cases, are entirely avoidable.”

Earlier this year, it was announced city chiefs could face a compensation bill of up to £1m from cyclists injured in falls on Edinburgh’s tram lines. A report from Glasgow-based Thompsons Solicitors revealed 74 cyclists were injured on Princes Street after their wheels became trapped in the rim of the track.