Pothole claims try the patience

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I refer to the recent letter from Councillor Burgess, Chairman of HDC regarding the abysmal state of the A264 Horsham Road at Alfold.

This section of the highway falls to Surrey Council and being one of many vehicles damaged by the numerous potholes adorning this stretch of road one can only hope the drivers are able to obtain redress for car damage from the relevant authorities.

I have been in correspondence with the SCC insurers since February after completing a six page application which has to be accompanied by detailed photographs, depth analysis of the potholes, plus photocopies of my car log book, insurance,MOT, most recent service, repair invoice and estimates of the mileage on the tyre, (they only consider pro rata payments, not new for old). To cap it all National Insurance details, I was surprised they didn’t ask my blood type. Quite a bundle of ‘Big Brother’ bureaucracy even by local government standards.

Having submitted my claims ‘parcel’ in February and promised action or rather adjudication within 90 days, I received an email reply following numerous phone calls to SCC to indicate my documentation had been sent to Kier Construction, the council’s road contractors. Further calls to both parties in May resulted in both claiming the paperwork had been lost or mislaid, presumably by the other. A classic case of digit pointing.

June has arrived: the potholes in Alfold progress and can no longer be blamed on bad weather, but rather simply indifference and inaction. Council claims variously lack of resources, underfunding, tar will not set, holes not deep enough, too many heavy goods vehicles, white vans, manpower, bad day at the office etc... but regular drivers know that the standard of road surfaces and verge repairs are now unacceptable, well below road industry par and moreover unsafe.

SCC officials, (or rather their insurers) in their undoubted enthusiasm to protect taxpayers’ monies adopt an all consuming but what one can only call a glacial claims process involving both in attempts to evade their corporate responsibilities.

Not sure where one goes from here. Well next is a judicial appeal to SCC / Kier and if that fails, then the people’s Small Claims Court beckons. But, does it ? Well yes but with a caveat - you lose and there is always a good chance you will, then they can legally hand their considerable legal costs to you the victim.

But, further twists, in the event you win, good job done but it will try one’s patience and probably take many months but costs to your time and effort cannot be claimed. Justice fair or denied?

V. Scarborough

Willow Place , Horsham