Edinburgh potholes: 1,100 compensation claims and £26,000 paid out in past three years

MSP claims other councils maintain roads better than Edinburgh

Edinburgh council received 1,100 claims for compensation for damage to vehicles caused by potholes over the last three years and paid out a total of just over £26,000.

And one Tory MSP called for the council to look again at its maintenance programme and repair technology, claiming other authorities coped better with the problem. The Tories submitted Freedom of Information requests to councils across Scotland and calculated that only one in six claims for damage caused by potholes resulted in a compensation payment.

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In Edinburgh, claims totalled 404 in 2019/20, 323 in 2020/21 and 373 in 2021/22, making 1,100 claims over the three years. Some claims are still being considered, but of those dealt with, a total of 125 resulted in a compensation payment while 800 were rejected – a success rate for the claimants of 13.5 per cent, slightly below the national average.

Transport convener Scott Arthur says an extra £8m is needed to halt the decline in the condition of the Capital's roads.
Transport convener Scott Arthur says an extra £8m is needed to halt the decline in the condition of the Capital's roads.
Transport convener Scott Arthur says an extra £8m is needed to halt the decline in the condition of the Capital's roads.

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: "Any motorist using the roads in the Capital will be acutely aware of just how bad many roads are but the fact we're seeing so many drivers claiming compensation for damage to their vehicles also sends a message to the council that we need to see action to address the issue and make the roads safe. It's just as much an issue for cyclists as it is for motorists because it can be even more dangerous if you're hitting some of these potholes on a bike.”

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He acknowledged there had been cuts to council budgets from the Scottish Government, but said the authority needed to take the issue of potholes “more seriously”. “It almost feels as if the council needs someone to report a pothole before they do anything about it. Other councils seem to look after their roads better – I don’t know if they have more hit squads to go and target potholes before they get bad or maybe they're using different technology. Highlands have a huge road network but seem to manage to fill potholes better and don't have as many claims against them. The council should be keeping on top of these issues before the potholes develop to a point which is going to damage cars. I think they need to look again at their maintenance programme and the technology they’re using.”

Transport convener Scott Arthur admitted more needed to be done and said he was actively trying to put a plan together. He said: “One of the first things I did as transport convener was accept that the condition of roads and footpaths is unacceptable. I now know the service is under-funded and to halt the decline we need an additional £8 million a year. Despite the significant cuts the council faces from the Scottish Government I’m open to working with councillors from all parties to halt the decline of road conditions in Edinburgh.” He added that he had asked officials to bring forward proposals to tackle the issue.