A recent Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) of all 33 London Boroughs has revealed that the total amount paid out in pothole claims across Greater London in 2017/18 was just £132,000. Only 16% of the 1,673 claims received by all 33 London Borough Councils led to any form of compensation.
Road users across Greater London deserve to travel in safety. Tyres, suspension and steering are all crucial components of any vehicle and are all susceptible to damage after hitting a pothole. The FOI asked about the number of legal claims that had been made for damage to vehicles, and of these, how many were successful and the value that was paid out.
The Data Table (below) reveals that there were 28,599 recorded pothole related complaints across all 33 London Boroughs. Receiving the most complaints were Brent with 3,187 and The London Borough of Croydon with 4,941, this despite Croydon being the second highest recorded for spend on repairs in comparison to the other London boroughs at £4.4m.
|London Borough||Spend on road repairs 17/18||Number of Complaints 17/18||Number of claims for vehicle damage caused by
|No of claims paid out||Value claims paid out for vehicle damage caused by potholes||Worst road for pothole complaints in each LA area 17/18|
|Barking & Dagenham||£1,790,000.00||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||212||2||£2,101.32||Info not held/available or is recorded separately|
|Barnet||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||1304||292||74||£23,670.00||Info not held/available or is recorded separately|
|Bromley||£695,745.28||3032||134||30||£14,529.00||Shire Lane – could also include kerbs etc..|
|Camden||£1,900,000.00||898||98||?||£919.00||Info not held/available or is recorded separately|
|City of London||£226,690.55||424||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||n/a||Cheapside|
|Croydon||£4,400,000.00||4941||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||9||£2,866.40||Little Woodcote Lane|
|Ealing||£569,162.31||397||47||3||841,72||Popes Lane, Ealing Common|
|Enfield||£1,900,000.00||535||51||7||£2,811.01||Enfield Road EN2|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||£101,961.00||186||31||4||£2,609.50||North End Rd|
|Haringey||£100,821.00||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||37||0||£0.00||White Hard Lane|
|Havering||£1,922,118.14||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||14||2||£1,952.14||Info not held/available or is recorded separately|
|Hillingdon||£392,219.00||1445||95||32||£13,205.00||Breakspear Road South|
|Hounslow||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||357||29||3||£423.00||Chiswick High Road|
|Islington||£109, 968.00||136||81||13||£63, 796.00||St Johns Street|
|Kensington & Chelsea||£1,260,391.00||42||16||2||£185.88||n/a|
|Kingston upon Thames||£221,624.52||1587||13||1||£54.99||Ewell Road|
|Lambeth||£1,362,000.00||13||11||1||£1,738.75||Info not held/available or is recorded separately|
|Merton||£378,835.00||1342||65||11||£18,314.90||Worple Road SW19|
|Newham||£322,646.58||1391||43||8||£4,613.53||Romford Road (Comments this is a very long road)|
|Redbridge||£2,503.00||659||25||2||£2,750.00||Cranbrook Road, IG1|
|Richmond upon Thames||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||776||9||Less than 5||£1,100.57||Petersham Road|
|Sutton||£2,096,406.16.||711||35||Less than 5||Exempt as less than 5||Woodcote Rd Wallington and Wrythe Lane Carshalton with 11 each|
|Tower Hamlets||£1,360,000.00||158||8||2||<£1500||Prestons Road|
|Waltham Forest||£341,741.45||Info not held/available or is recorded separately||20||2||£235.00||Info not held/available or is recorded separately|
|Wandsworth||£3,356,00.00||748||24||13||£9,021.54||Garratt Lane SW18|
|Westminster||£589,055.76||842||61||7||£7,975.25||Info not held/available or is recorded separately|
The smoothest rides can be enjoyed in Lewisham, Kensington and Chelsea which recorded the least number of complaints. Then followed closely by Islington, who despite a low level of complaints, paid out the most (£63,796) in relation to the 13 claims received.
The study found that The London Borough of Barnet is top of the table with the highest number of damage claims received, with 292 claims. A total of 74 of these were successful totalling a pay-out value of £23,670. Richmond upon Thames, Tower Hamlets and Southwark reported the least number of claims.
The consequences for a small business of poor road maintenance can have a detrimental knock on effect on their ability to fulfil their business obligations as well as unnecessary vehicle repair costs. The FSB believes that there is an urgent need to prioritise carriageway repairs and in particular pothole repairs to ensure minimum disruption to all small businesses.
Sue Terpilowski OBE, FSB London Policy Chair, said, “Potholes are not only a danger to road users, they cause costly repairs, traffic congestion and bottlenecks, leading to consequent disruption to trading for our smaller businesses and the self-employed.
“London is already an expensive area to do business with soaring costs. Most small businesses rely on their local roads and transport systems. There should be simple way to report road problems to local councils, with identified problems quickly rectified. Highways maintenance needs to be a priority for our councils, to keep the road network moving for our small businesses in the city.”
FSB Greater London asks that all London Boroughs realise that well maintained roads are important to their respective communities, and in particular to realise the consequences on the productivity and project margins of local businesses. Also, for all 33 Councils to provide an online method of reporting, tracking, uploading a photo of a problem on a road or pavement, and to provide a simple system for submitting claims for damage to vehicles, whether they be cars, cycles, motorbikes/mopeds, lorries or vans.