LESS than two percent of claims made by drivers for pothole damage resulted in pay-outs from Essex County Council last year, the Gazette can reveal.

Following a Freedom of Information request submitted to Essex Highways, data released by the Essex County Council showed out of the 1,306 claims made by road users for vehicle damage resulting from potholes, only 16 were successful.

It means 1.22 per cent of claimants actually received money after damage was caused to their vehicles by road defects.

The Freedom of Information request also revealed the total amount of money paid out by Essex Highways in 2021 to successful claimants amounted to £13,152.65, which is an average of £822 per claimant.

When the figures were put to Andrea Luxford-Vaughan, the portfolio holder for planning and infrastructure at Colchester Council, the Liberal Democrat party councillor said the extremely low success rate for claimants was unacceptable.

She said: “I think it’s absolutely shocking – for a long time I was under the impression that one of the reasons the council didn’t fix potholes was because it was cheaper for them to pay out.

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“I know people personally who have tried to claim [money after their vehicle was damaged], and they are not people winging it – they are people who have been put in an awful situation because of the roads.

“If you leave potholes out on the roads, you have to pay out when people claim damages – or just fix the potholes in the first place.”

Mrs Luxford-Vaughan added that although Colchester’s pothole problem seemed worse than other areas of Essex, there was not much which could be done by the lower-tier authority.

“If you drive anywhere else in Essex, the potholes don’t seem as bad as Colchester – but there’s not a lot we can do as we are not the authority responsible for the roads.

“But, I am more than willing to work with people at Essex County Council to do something positive about it, because we could do a better job with the same amount of money.

“If we can’t get the contract with Essex working for Colchester, then I would like to see that responsibility given to us.”