I made council pay for pothole damage

Gazette: Frank Cattrall with his car. Frank Cattrall with his car.

A MOTORIST turned detective to win his court battle against Essex County Council over a pothole.

Fuming Frank Cattrall was left with a £500 bill after he drove over a hole in Greenstead Road, Colchester, wrecking his Renault’s suspension.

When the council refused to accept responsibility for the 18ins x 6ins deep hole, retired Mr Cattrall, 62, took up the fight via the Small Claims Court and got his day at Colchester County Court.

He used evidence, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, to prove the council knew about the hole, but had ignored it.

He discovered the hole had been reported to the council by one of its own workers during an “ad-hoc” inspection last January, three months before the incident.

The hole was recorded as a third-level priority, meaning it should have been repaired within 28 days, but it wasn’t.

Another inspection took place a few weeks later and no problems were reported.

A county court judge ruled in Mr Cattrall’s favour, ordering the council to refund the plucky motorist £500, plus his costs of £115.

Mr Cattrall, who represented himself in court, said: “It is a great result. I had the evidence, but you are never 100 per cent sure what is going to happen.

“I knew the council had dropped off. They had made a mistake by ignoring the hole and trying to blame me.”

Mr Cattrall, of Norwich Close, Colchester, urged other motorists to follow his example.

He said: “It must have cost them more than £1,000 to defend it. I have heard other councils are not even fighting pothole claims, they are just paying up.

“People should not give up – they should look into it further. It is a lot of hassle, but at the end of the day I am a man of principle and if I feel strongly about something, I will stand up for it.”

The council had tried to argue Mr Cattrall’s driving was at fault, despite him driving over the hole in the dark and in the rain. Two days after Mr Cattrall contacted the council to complain, it filled in the hole.

A county council spokesman said: “In the last recorded year, 85 per cent of highways compensation claims were successfully defended with no compensation paid.

“In this case, we felt we had a valid statutory defence to the claim, but the court disagreed and found for the claimant.”

  • Members of the public are encouraged to report any new highway defects by using the View It, Track It, Report It function at the Essex Highways site or by calling 0845 603 7631.

Comments (14)

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8:05am Wed 15 Jan 14

Ritchie_Hicks says...

Good on him - there are potholes which have taken ECC over 6 months to repair. It's really not good enough and they should expect more claims like this if they don't pull their finger out.

There are potholes forming all over the place and the really cold weather hasn't even started yet.
Good on him - there are potholes which have taken ECC over 6 months to repair. It's really not good enough and they should expect more claims like this if they don't pull their finger out. There are potholes forming all over the place and the really cold weather hasn't even started yet. Ritchie_Hicks

8:43am Wed 15 Jan 14

stevedawson says...

What firm has the contract for small road repairs?surely a part or their contract should be to assess the roads periodically and mark areas for repair.the final go ahead would be given by the council overseer.the system they work at present is clearly not working, one drive round would prove that.
What firm has the contract for small road repairs?surely a part or their contract should be to assess the roads periodically and mark areas for repair.the final go ahead would be given by the council overseer.the system they work at present is clearly not working, one drive round would prove that. stevedawson

8:45am Wed 15 Jan 14

jammin says...

Well done chap!
Well done chap! jammin

9:11am Wed 15 Jan 14

Ritchie_Hicks says...

stevedawson wrote:
What firm has the contract for small road repairs?surely a part or their contract should be to assess the roads periodically and mark areas for repair.the final go ahead would be given by the council overseer.the system they work at present is clearly not working, one drive round would prove that.
Checking the road is fit for purpose is the council's responsibility, not a subcontractor.
[quote][p][bold]stevedawson[/bold] wrote: What firm has the contract for small road repairs?surely a part or their contract should be to assess the roads periodically and mark areas for repair.the final go ahead would be given by the council overseer.the system they work at present is clearly not working, one drive round would prove that.[/p][/quote]Checking the road is fit for purpose is the council's responsibility, not a subcontractor. Ritchie_Hicks

10:05am Wed 15 Jan 14

karen f says...

I think they will be hearing from alot more people now as these potholes already have small puddles in them where they are breaking down. ECC must waste thousands upon thousands of pounds filling and re-filling potholes instead of doing the job properly in the first place!
Our pavements and roads are more like patchwork quilts and on top of that we have to negotiate them in complete darkness between midnight and 5am ... awesome!
I think they will be hearing from alot more people now as these potholes already have small puddles in them where they are breaking down. ECC must waste thousands upon thousands of pounds filling and re-filling potholes instead of doing the job properly in the first place! Our pavements and roads are more like patchwork quilts and on top of that we have to negotiate them in complete darkness between midnight and 5am ... awesome! karen f

12:28pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Jess Jephcott says...

I am incensed that my taxes should be handed out to anybody who can't look where they are driving. The smugness of this man at making us all pay for his stupidity is galling. I pay my taxes for services - not for those that exploit our compensation culture and win.through the weakness of our council. Man up CBC. Stand up to these people. Just remember that a pot hole does no damage. It is the drivers of cars that cause the potholes and who self-inflict the damage to their cars through their own stupidity.
I am incensed that my taxes should be handed out to anybody who can't look where they are driving. The smugness of this man at making us all pay for his stupidity is galling. I pay my taxes for services - not for those that exploit our compensation culture and win.through the weakness of our council. Man up CBC. Stand up to these people. Just remember that a pot hole does no damage. It is the drivers of cars that cause the potholes and who self-inflict the damage to their cars through their own stupidity. Jess Jephcott

12:35pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Ritchie_Hicks says...

Jess Jephcott wrote:
I am incensed that my taxes should be handed out to anybody who can't look where they are driving. The smugness of this man at making us all pay for his stupidity is galling. I pay my taxes for services - not for those that exploit our compensation culture and win.through the weakness of our council. Man up CBC. Stand up to these people. Just remember that a pot hole does no damage. It is the drivers of cars that cause the potholes and who self-inflict the damage to their cars through their own stupidity.
I don't know if you've driven on the road around Colchester early morning when the street lights are off Jess, but it's almost impossible to avoid potholes, especially when it's been raining and they are full water.

Our roads are disgraceful and ECC only have themselves to blame.

Anyway, it looks like the Court system agreed with Mr Cattrall so I'm afraid you'll have to lump it on this occasion. This case may set a precedent for the future so expect to hear more like this.
[quote][p][bold]Jess Jephcott[/bold] wrote: I am incensed that my taxes should be handed out to anybody who can't look where they are driving. The smugness of this man at making us all pay for his stupidity is galling. I pay my taxes for services - not for those that exploit our compensation culture and win.through the weakness of our council. Man up CBC. Stand up to these people. Just remember that a pot hole does no damage. It is the drivers of cars that cause the potholes and who self-inflict the damage to their cars through their own stupidity.[/p][/quote]I don't know if you've driven on the road around Colchester early morning when the street lights are off Jess, but it's almost impossible to avoid potholes, especially when it's been raining and they are full water. Our roads are disgraceful and ECC only have themselves to blame. Anyway, it looks like the Court system agreed with Mr Cattrall so I'm afraid you'll have to lump it on this occasion. This case may set a precedent for the future so expect to hear more like this. Ritchie_Hicks

1:26pm Wed 15 Jan 14

stevedawson says...

I'm with you jess.
I'm with you jess. stevedawson

4:08pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Jess Jephcott says...

This is compensation culture at its very best. A waste of my hard earned taxes that could and should be better spent. Our potholes near me have rounded edges on them due to wear. We all get used to them. In fact, not so long ago I damaged one of my wheels on one of them and had to get a new wheel. I reported the pothole to the council and they fixed it. They also sent me a claim form, which I threw in the bin. So the council is actually encouraging people to claim for something that is of not of the concil's making. I damaged my wheel because I was careless, not because the pothole did anything wrong. All I ask is that the council fixes potholes as and when the occur.
This is compensation culture at its very best. A waste of my hard earned taxes that could and should be better spent. Our potholes near me have rounded edges on them due to wear. We all get used to them. In fact, not so long ago I damaged one of my wheels on one of them and had to get a new wheel. I reported the pothole to the council and they fixed it. They also sent me a claim form, which I threw in the bin. So the council is actually encouraging people to claim for something that is of not of the concil's making. I damaged my wheel because I was careless, not because the pothole did anything wrong. All I ask is that the council fixes potholes as and when the occur. Jess Jephcott

4:16pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Ritchie_Hicks says...

Jess Jephcott wrote:
This is compensation culture at its very best. A waste of my hard earned taxes that could and should be better spent. Our potholes near me have rounded edges on them due to wear. We all get used to them. In fact, not so long ago I damaged one of my wheels on one of them and had to get a new wheel. I reported the pothole to the council and they fixed it. They also sent me a claim form, which I threw in the bin. So the council is actually encouraging people to claim for something that is of not of the concil's making. I damaged my wheel because I was careless, not because the pothole did anything wrong. All I ask is that the council fixes potholes as and when the occur.
"A waste of my hard earned taxes that could and should be better spent". You're not the only one who pays taxes. No doubt Mr Cattrell does as well.

"So the council is actually encouraging people to claim for something that is of not of the concil's making". Actually, that's wrong. The council is obliged to maintain the roads to a reasonable standard.

"I damaged my wheel because I was careless". Perhaps. But in Mr Cattrell's case, a court believed his vehicle was damaged because the council was negligent.

"All I ask is that the council fixes potholes as and when the occur". That's the point. They didn't.
[quote][p][bold]Jess Jephcott[/bold] wrote: This is compensation culture at its very best. A waste of my hard earned taxes that could and should be better spent. Our potholes near me have rounded edges on them due to wear. We all get used to them. In fact, not so long ago I damaged one of my wheels on one of them and had to get a new wheel. I reported the pothole to the council and they fixed it. They also sent me a claim form, which I threw in the bin. So the council is actually encouraging people to claim for something that is of not of the concil's making. I damaged my wheel because I was careless, not because the pothole did anything wrong. All I ask is that the council fixes potholes as and when the occur.[/p][/quote]"A waste of my hard earned taxes that could and should be better spent". You're not the only one who pays taxes. No doubt Mr Cattrell does as well. "So the council is actually encouraging people to claim for something that is of not of the concil's making". Actually, that's wrong. The council is obliged to maintain the roads to a reasonable standard. "I damaged my wheel because I was careless". Perhaps. But in Mr Cattrell's case, a court believed his vehicle was damaged because the council was negligent. "All I ask is that the council fixes potholes as and when the occur". That's the point. They didn't. Ritchie_Hicks

6:34pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Colchesterperson says...

Correction tax payers paid for his car repair as all money ecc have is tax payers money, so not exactly somethinf to be too chuffed about especially when they up the taxes because people keep on claiming.
Correction tax payers paid for his car repair as all money ecc have is tax payers money, so not exactly somethinf to be too chuffed about especially when they up the taxes because people keep on claiming. Colchesterperson

11:12am Thu 16 Jan 14

Colchester Castle says...

Colchesterperson wrote:
Correction tax payers paid for his car repair as all money ecc have is tax payers money, so not exactly somethinf to be too chuffed about especially when they up the taxes because people keep on claiming.
But he too is a taxpayer and pays a small fortune in road tax, fuel duty and VAT. The least he should be able to expect is a road that doesn't wreck his car.

I bet you would have a very different point of view if it had happened to you!
[quote][p][bold]Colchesterperson[/bold] wrote: Correction tax payers paid for his car repair as all money ecc have is tax payers money, so not exactly somethinf to be too chuffed about especially when they up the taxes because people keep on claiming.[/p][/quote]But he too is a taxpayer and pays a small fortune in road tax, fuel duty and VAT. The least he should be able to expect is a road that doesn't wreck his car. I bet you would have a very different point of view if it had happened to you! Colchester Castle

5:10pm Fri 17 Jan 14

A Very Private Gentleman says...

What about those who claim and do not get a penny from the system then
What if your car is damaged and you loose???

Yes it is us who have to foot the bill through higher charges to ECC.

We all pay in fuel/ road fund/insurance/ service/mot/

However most people loose their claims to ECC.

What about these people then.

The arguments above are futile!
What about those who claim and do not get a penny from the system then What if your car is damaged and you loose??? Yes it is us who have to foot the bill through higher charges to ECC. We all pay in fuel/ road fund/insurance/ service/mot/ However most people loose their claims to ECC. What about these people then. The arguments above are futile! A Very Private Gentleman

5:51pm Fri 17 Jan 14

Ritchie_Hicks says...

A Very Private Gentleman wrote:
What about those who claim and do not get a penny from the system then
What if your car is damaged and you loose???

Yes it is us who have to foot the bill through higher charges to ECC.

We all pay in fuel/ road fund/insurance/ service/mot/

However most people loose their claims to ECC.

What about these people then.

The arguments above are futile!
Taking civil action is always a risk. What's your point?
[quote][p][bold]A Very Private Gentleman[/bold] wrote: What about those who claim and do not get a penny from the system then What if your car is damaged and you loose??? Yes it is us who have to foot the bill through higher charges to ECC. We all pay in fuel/ road fund/insurance/ service/mot/ However most people loose their claims to ECC. What about these people then. The arguments above are futile![/p][/quote]Taking civil action is always a risk. What's your point? Ritchie_Hicks

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