Money down the drain? Croydon tops the table for potholes

Credit where credit’s due: Croydon Council does top at least one league table. Croydon has been forced to fork out more compensation to motorists for damage caused by potholes on the borough’s roads than any other London council.

According to a report compiled from FOI requests, Croydon paid £30,831 to 380 motorists between 2010 and 2012 for damage caused to their vehicles by roads in poor repair, thus maintaining its unwanted status as “The Pothole Capital of London”.

Based on figures available, Croydon’s compensation figure is 50 per cent more than the next worst London borough for pay-outs to motorists: Hillingdon paid out £19,981 in the same period.

But take great care if driving south of Croydon: Surrey County Council spent more than £630,000 on 3,650 payouts to motorists for vehicle damage caused by neglected roads and potholes in the county.

Not all of Croydon’s roads come under the council’s control, with Transport for London being responsible for many trunk routes. Nevertheless, comparisons with other London boroughs do not show Croydon in a good light.

In neighbouring Bromley, the bill for pothole damage was barely one-fifth of that in Croydon, as they paid £6,925 to 189 drivers.

In inner London Lewisham, £3,448 was paid to 96 claimants.

In Bexley, like Croydon another outer London borough under Conservative control, the council’s compensation bill was a mere £1,351 to 121 complainants.

The figures became available after a wide-ranging FOI from a motoring company.

Britannia Rescue issued Freedom of Information requests to 434 city, district, borough and county councils – 143 responded with at least one piece of data, while 291 are either yet to respond or said that they did not keep the data.

The claims for compensation from motorists typically ranged from potholes ruining wheel rims to punctured tyres and damaged suspension.

The latest report does not consider damage or injury suffered by cyclists as a result of holes in the boroughs’ roads – it was a cycling website that dubbed Croydon “The Pothole Capital of London” in 2010, following 450 cyclists’ complaints in three years.

The council’s excuse is that three severe winters have caused an unusual level of damage to road surfaces in Croydon. Perhaps there is a micro-climate in our borough, since the roads in nearby boroughs do not appear to be as badly affected as those in Croydon.

According to Croydon Council, it has spent £7 million on road repairs in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 and will have spent close to £40 million on road repairs by 2015.

One local paper quoted a council spokesman as saying, “The council is investing £14 million between 2013 and 2015 as part of the council’s five-year programme to transform highways maintenance.

“This includes helping to repair the combined damage of three consecutive winters of severe weather that has had a significant impact on the condition of Croydon’s roads, resulting in a backlog of maintenance work, despite increased expenditure to combat the damage caused to road surfaces by snow and ice.”

But according to the council’s own figures, Croydon banked £9.1 million from on-street parking income in 2009-2010. The council is obliged by law to use such revenues only for transport spending, and these figures precede last year’s 50 per cent hike in residents’ parking permit fees.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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