Friday, 14 February 2014

Couple wins landmark victory against council over pothole damage


A Northamptonshire couple have won a legal battle against the County Council after it was discovered the authority had lied regarding their knowledge of a pothole which damaged their car.

Jane Tramontana, of Sutton Basset, drove through a 3ft-wide pothole, which punctured two tyres on her Nissan Micra.

However, when they reported the incident to Northamptonshire County Council in January last year, they were refused the right to apply for compensation, as the council claimed that it did not have any knowledge of the pothole's existence.

Not willing to simply roll-over on the matter, Jane and her husband Philip Charles started legal proceedings and were eventually awarded compensation of £311.

Northampton Country Court heard that the authority had in fact been informed of the dangerous road defect and had marked it as a priority case to be fixed within five days.

When the repairs were not carried out and the damage was caused to Ms Tramontana's car, council bosses simply stuck their head in the sand and denied all knowledge of the pothole.

District Judge Sarah Watson told the court: "There are clear problems with the way the council deals with dangerous potholes,"

Mr Charles is now urging others to take the fight to their local councils, despite the fact it has taken the couple over a year to be properly compensated.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, he described the case as a "nightmare".

"When I got to Sutton Bassett I found the road just littered with cars that had hit this hole – you couldn't avoid it," he said.

"Every one had damaged their tyres. I called the police in the end because it was obviously dangerous.

"The council denied being told of the pothole, but 'they clearly had."

Mr Charles went on to claim that the Council attempted to palm him off, claiming the hole wasn't a serious issue.

"We were told that people had reported it and since it is dangerous they should have fixed it straightaway. But they still tried to claim it wasn't a problem. They even sent us a group of reports that were obviously for a different hole.

"They then bombard you with all sorts of documents and hope they will confuse you into just going away."

The majority of councils promise to fix potholes within five days of inspection, but some have a policy of 24-hour repairs for dangerous defects.

Northamptonshire County Council did not comment on the verdict.

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