West Dunbartonshire Council did not accept any of the claims it received for pothole damaged vehicles last year, it has been revealed.
New research has found the council received 36 claims from drivers who have hit a pothole – which is below the national average of 166 – between 2021-22.
The figures, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives following a Freedom of Information request, show that of those 36 claims, not one resulted in a payout.
Over the past three years, the council received 108 claims, with 10 resulting in a payout (nine per cent).
The percentage of claims WDC has received increased slightly from 34 in 2019-20 to 38 in 2020-21, then decreased slightly to 36 in 2021-22.
The number of claims paid out over the last three years initially increased from five per cent, in 2019-20, to 21 per cent in 2020-21, however, declined by a quarter to zero per cent in 2021-22.
The total compensation paid out by WDC over the past three years exceeds £1,700, lower than neighbouring Argyll and Bute, and six times lower than the total in Glasgow. Last year (2021-22), none of the 36 claims were approved by the council.
In 2020-21, eight claims out of a total 38 were accepted with a total of £1355.55 paid out. The year before, 2019-20, there were two claims approved from 34 and payments made totalling £351.46.
Councillor Jim Bollan told the Post the situation with potholes is going to get “dramatically worse”.
The Community Party politician said: “The council’s insurance policy is so tightly written and rigorously applied by the insurance company that it is almost impossible to prove the council has been ‘negligent’, and receive compensation for damage caused by potholes.
“This is the feedback I receive from constituents. The system is not about fairness, it is about money.
“More claims paid, equals higher insurance premiums for WDC. The situation with potholes is about to get dramatically worse as the Labour council last month made a substantial cut to the roads budget which will reduce pothole repairs to roads and pavements.”
Clydebank’s MSP Marie McNair said the risk from potholes and related damage can’t be ignored.
She added: “It is for West Dunbartonshire Council to comment of these figures but the risk from potholes and damage caused must not be ignored. I am concerned about the number of potholes throughout Clydebank and it is even more of a problem this time of year with the winter weather and the poor visibility that comes with it.
“Potholes are a real risk to drivers and life threatening to cyclists. I urge everyone to report them to the Council and I will continue to make representations about any notified to my office.”
Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP said: “The dire condition of our roads is an extremely serious issue. Far too many local routes across Scotland are scarred with potholes which damage vehicles and can lead to crashes.
“But by imposing years of systematic and continued budget cuts, Nicola Sturgeon’s government is starving councils of the cash needed either to carry out essentials repairs or to compensate drivers affected by their failure to do so.“Scotland’s pock-marked roads require urgent attention, and the SNP ought to commit to establishing the Pothole Action Funds that the Scottish Conservatives have called for.
“Sadly, though, as John Swinney’s recent budget reaffirmed, local government services are not a priority for ministers, who continue to impose unsustainable funding cuts on councils.”
A spokesperson for deputy first minister John Swinney said: “Despite UK Government cuts to our budget, we have protected councils in the most challenging budget since devolution to provide more than £13.2 billion in the 2023-24 Local Government Settlement.
“This represents a cash increase of over £570 million or 4.5 per cent, which is a real terms increase of £160.6 million or 1.3 per cent.
“Maintenance of the local road network is the responsibility of local authorities and it is up to individual councils to manage their own budgets and allocate the total financial resources available to them on the basis of local needs and priorities.“If other parties wish to see more funding allocated for purposes of this type, they must identify which other budgets must be reduced to provide the funding. This has not been done on this – and many other – occasions.”
A council spokesperson said: “All claims received are assessed by independent claims handlers. Claims are rejected if no fault or liability can be attributed to West Dunbartonshire Council.”