Compensation claims paid-out to motorists quadrupled for one council following the wettest winter since records began.
East Sussex County Council paid out compensation totalling more than £24,000 to 29 motorists suffering damage to their vehicles because of potholes in January this month.
The news comes as a new report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance claims that at the current rate of repairs it would take local authorities 21 years to meet its highway maintenance backlog.
East Sussex County Council received 168 claims for compensation in January and fixed an average of 128 potholes a day at more than twice the rate of last January.
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Other councils were similarly extended by the record-breaking onslaught of rain with West Sussex County Council’s highways team repairing more than 2,000 potholes in January. Brighton and Hove City Council received 17 claims for pothole compensation compared to just six claims over the past three Januarys.
One motorist received an £8,000 payout from East Sussex County Council for damage suffered by their car.
But a further 139 car-owners were unsuccessful with their claim – the equivalent of five in six claimants.
The council’s team repaired 3,975 potholes in January, the same amount as the two previous Januarys combined.
Roger Williams, East Sussex County Council's head of highways, said councillors have agreed an investment of £49 million in the road network over the next two years while the Government has also announced funding of £2.6 million.
He added: “We have experienced the wettest winter on record which has taken its toll on the 2,000 miles of road East Sussex County Council manages and maintains and since the start of the year we have fixed more than 15,000 potholes.
“Every compensation claim made to the county council is carefully assessed.
Councillor Ian Davey, Brighton and Hove City Council’s lead member for transport, said £325,000 had been specifically for repairing roads in poor condition with up to £1 million for road reconstruction which will help to prevent the occurrence of potholes in future.
He added: “There’s no doubt that the severe weather at the beginning of the year has impacted on the number of repairs needed but we’re working hard to ensure the roads are fit for purpose and are investing much more money on resurfacing and renewal work.”
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said the authority was soon to announce details of a £30million, two-year Better Roads Programme.
He added: “The wettest winter on record has had an impact on the state of our roads.
“To combat this, ten maintenance gangs, along with six pothole patrol teams, have been out continuously throughout 2014 to keep the roads safe for people to use.
“Studies have forecast that if money is invested up front on high quality road surfaces, it will save millions of pounds in maintenance costs over the next 20 years.
“By investing heavily now in upgrading road surfaces, it will be cheaper in the long run to maintain them and stop them deteriorating.”