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.