Drivers 'paying the price' for pothole-marked roads

Motorists receive little compensation for damage to their vehicles on some of Scotland's worst-affected roads.

Drivers are being “failed” by budget cuts to local government services, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed, after it emerged just one in six claims for damage caused by potholes was compensated.

Figures obtained by the party show 15.76% of pothole claims were paid out in the 2021-22 period, though the exact total was not disclosed.

Shadow transport minister Graham Simpson MSP said poor road maintenance caused by decreasing council budgets meant that motorists were paying the price for streets being in an undriveable condition.

However, a Scottish Government spokesperson said budgets had been “protected” against the most challenging financial circumstances since devolution.

Simpson previously called for the introduction of “pothole action funds,” used for local communities to demand their roads be properly rectified.

He accused Holyrood of “failing to prioritise local government services,” adding: “The dire condition of our roads is an extremely serious issue. Far too many local routes across Scotland are scarred with potholes which damage vehicles and can lead to crashes.

“But by imposing years of systematic and continued budget cuts, Nicola Sturgeon’s government are starving councils of the cash needed either to carry out essentials repairs or to compensate drivers affected by their failure to do so.

“Sadly, though, as John Swinney’s recent budget reaffirmed, local government services are not a priority for ministers, who continue to impose unsustainable funding cuts on councils.”

Figures released by Scottish Labour in March last year claimed Scottish Councils’ had a £1.7bn pothole repair backlog to contend with.

Dumfries and Galloway Council had the highest repair bill, with a total of just over £217m, while Argyll and Bute and Highland Councils were both rated at over £100m.

A spokesperson for the deputy first minister said an additional £13.2bn would be provided to local authorities through the 23/24 local government settlement and rejected claims not enough was being done to protect local services.

“Maintenance of the local road network is the responsibility of local authorities and it is up to individual councils to manage their own budgets and allocate the total financial resources available to them on the basis of local needs and priorities,” they said.

“Despite UK Government cuts to our budget, we have protected councils in the most challenging Budget since devolution to provide more than £13.2bn in the 2023-24 local government settlement.

“This represents a cash increase of over £570m or 4.5%, which is a real terms increase of £160.6m or 1.3%.

“If other parties wish to see more funding allocated for purposes of this type, they must identify which other budgets must be reduced to provide the funding. This has not been done on this – and many other – occasions.”

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