BY LOUISE CONVERY
The number of compensation claims made to the Roads Service in the Magherafelt and Cookstown areas has more than doubled in a three-year period.
Compensation paid out by the Roads Service for damages in these areas increased from almost £18,000 to over £30,000 in a three-year period. Information provided by the Department for Regional Development on compensation claims made as a result of uneven road surfaces show an increase from 144 claims in 2008/2009 to 320 in 2010/2011.
Claims increased in 2009/2010 on the previous year with 270 claims made and nearly £29,000 paid out in compensation.
The largest payment in these three years was £2,750 in 2010/2011 in the Cookstown area compared to just over £700 the maximum compensation paid in the Magherafelt area in 2009/2010.
The significant increase in claims is thought to be largely down to the extreme winter weather causing damage to the roads.
The Department’s Roads Service records claims information by section office area. Liability was denied in 100 of the cases received during this period and 11 of the claims are still being processed.
Mid-Ulster DUP Assembly MLA, Ian McCrea, has called upon the DRD to take urgent action to improve the roads in the Mid Ulster constituency.
“It came as no surprise that statistics have shown a considerable rise in the number of claims submitted to Roads Service in the Cookstown and Magherafelt area for damage to vehicles due to potholes, given the fact that we have seen some of the worst winters on record,” he said.
“During the last number of years we have seen extreme winter conditions that has led to potholes forming at an accelerated rate, which has been a major contributor to this spike in claims.
“Although it is almost an impossible task to repair every pothole, I would encourage the Minister to put every measure in place in order to avoid unnecessary damage to cars and subsequent claiming from his department. I would also encourage people who notice a pothole in the road to make Roads Service aware, as early intervention can reduce the amount of claims.”
In response to the figures, a DRD Spokesperson said: “Safety remains a top priority and Roads Service undertakes regular inspections and condition surveys to ensure the road network is maintained to defined standards and that serious road defects are detected and repaired.
“Damage to roads surfaces has increased over the last two years with the severe winters we have experienced and we would ask all drivers to take extra care on the roads especially over the winter months when defects can be less visible in snow and in wet conditions.”