When John Topping popped out in his car one afternoon in Ripon this winter, he didn’t expect to be hit by a £150 insurance bill before he had even reached his local shop.
But the damage to his car was through no fault of his own, or another driver’s. The car’s suspension had been wrecked by a gaping 12-inch pothole, which is apparently under regular inspection from North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).
Mr Topping tried to claim the insurance money back from the council, but ended up having to foot the bill himself.
“The potholes on Allhallowgate, Clotherholme Road and Ash Bank Road are really big and it’s not on that we have to pay for the damage ourselves. When I complained to the council they did not accept liability because they told me they inspect potholes on a three-monthly basis,” he said.
“I feel fobbed off. They should set up an action line and get more people out there looking at the potholes. They need to show that they will do something about it.”
Perilous potholes have also been recorded at Studley Road and Palace Road in Ripon and in the villages of Ellingstring and Sharow.
Coun Bernard Bateman says he is particularly worried about the Clotherholme Road pothole because it is the site of Ripon Grammar School, Outwood Academy Ripon and elderly care homes.
“I am concerned greatly about the kids on bikes cycling around the road. I have had three damaged tyres and my wife has also had her tyre damaged because of the state of the roads,” he says.
“It comes down to finance –the council simply doesn’t have enough money to fix these problems. And the problem is that after all the rain over Christmas, even more holes have appeared.
“North Yorkshire County Council is obviously restricted by finance and we have to make sure we keep as many staff as possible, and that’s the important thing in terms of money.”
Coun Bateman has now pledged to use some of the £25,000 individual project funding he receives as a councillor at North Yorkshire County Council to improve potholes in his Ripon division, especially on Clotherholme Road.
He also urged anyone who thinks they should be able to claim back for damage to their car to send a photograph of the pothole to the council and request a claim form.
“People can makes claims but they have to make sure they have proof,” says Coun Bateman.
Coun Stuart Martin agrees that the county council should take some responsibility for the pothole problems.
“The situation is ridiculous,” he says. “It’s not just motorists who are suffering though, cyclists are being put in danger too. I think it’s perfectly legitimate for people to expect the council to pay for any damage.”
And Mr Topping is not the only Ripon resident dissatisfied by the state of the city’s roads, especially after a Christmas of severe rainfall caused further damage to the road surface.
Keen cyclist Bernard White, of Little Studley Road, says he has only managed to avoid any accidents because he knows where all the potholes already are.
“A pothole on Palace Road is so dangerous – you can see traffic wires coming out of it. I know all the detours to avoid dangerous routes but what about unsuspecting people travelling through the city?
“The problem is that none of them are being repaired. I sent the county council some photos of the potholes on Palace Road over 18 months ago and the bulk of them still haven’t been repaired.”
Local people have also taken to Twitter to express their outrage.
Andrew Ripley says he had to pay out £56 for a new wheel while only travelling at 20mph from Marton-le-Moor to Sharow, while Launa Woodruff said she has had two suspension springs replaced so far.
Rob Hall tweeted: “I’ve just had to have yet another tyre replaced due to pot holes around Ellingstring. Roads are in a shocking state.”
A spokesman for NYCC said the council has a “proactive inspection regime in place for all the highway network”.
He added: “The roads in question were inspected last November/December and any defects that met the intervention criteria we actioned for repair or made safe. We cannot comment on specific claims but as a highways authority we do successfully defend insurance claims because we have the necessary inspection regimes in place.”
NYCC urged the public to report any concerns about road defects by calling 08458 727374