A DRIVER whose car hit a pothole received a compensation pay-out of £13,000 from a Scottish council.
And a pedestrian who suffered a fracture as a result of a poor road maintenance received £10,000 of taxpayers’ cash.
Scottish councils are even forking out for the non-human victims of thousands of unfilled potholes. The owner of an animal hurt by a pothole was paid over £350.
The information was revealed following a Freedom of Information request to Scottish councils for compensation payments related to potholes. Twelve of the country’s 32 councils provided information, admitting to a total of at least £548,564 since 2012.
Critics have suggested councils are relying on a strategy of paying compensation because it is simpler than fixing potholes.
The highest single payout was made by Renfrewshire Council in early 2012. The council compensated the owner of a vehicle damaged by a pothole to the tune of £12,665.
Fife Council paid a pedestrian £10,000 the same year after they suffered a “break/fracture” as a result of a pothole.
Fife paid £9,000 the following year to another pedestrian who suffered cuts and abrasions.
Remarkably, the same council coughed up £365.20 in 2012 to the owner of an “animal” that suffered “soft tissue damage” as a result of a pothole.
Dumfries and Galloway paid out the highest total sum of the 12 councils at £129,789. They included a cyclist who received damages worth £10,697.
Other big payers included Renfrewshire at £97,883, West Lothian at £83,917, and Edinburgh at £62,482. Edinburgh paid out the smallest compensation claim at just £7.
Director of Policy and Research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Neil Greig said: “Every pound paid out in compensation is one less pound available to actually fix Scotland’s roads properly.
“Long term guaranteed funding is required to address the ever growing backlog of pothole repairs across the country.
“Annual spending cuts followed by last minute extra funds when a crisis appears just leads to poor planning and inefficiencies.
“Engineers know what they need to do to stop this rash of compensation claims they just don’t have the money to do it.”
Taxpayers Scotland believe that more transparency into how the taxpayers money is being spent on roadworks is needed and is concerned at how money can be found to make compensation claims despite road budgets being cut.
A spokesman for Taxpayers Scotland said: “While it is hugely difficult for Councils to maintain our roads perfectly, the variation in these figures across councils tells a story.
“It looks like some Councils are not finding a good balance between a good maintenance performance and using taxpayers money to pay off motorists for damage.
“It is simply not good enough to claim that road budgets have been cut back if the money can then be found to pay claims.
“The priority must be to ensure safety and reduce outgoings while keeping local taxpayers fully informed of the work being done to repair damaged roads and pavements.
“Road maintenance is an important function for our councils and full transparency in how our money is being used is vital.”
Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said: “It’s a sad state of affairs that so many motorists are having to claim compensation because Scotland’s roads are not up to scratch.
“If our roads were better maintained in the first place then this unnecessary cost to the public purse would be greatly minimised.
“Many of our roads are a national embarrassment and it’s time the SNP stepped up their approach to road maintenance and came up with a longer-term strategy that actually works.”