A battle to get the council to foot the bill for a £3,000 repair to a car badly damaged by a giant pothole has led the vehicle’s owner to threaten to take the authority to court.
Jonathan Turner, 46, of Bunbury has so far failed in his bid to get Cheshire West and Chester Council to claim responsibility for damage caused by the dramatic incident which happened last December.
Mr Turner was driving along Huxley Lane in Tiverton delivering Christmas cards when the car suddenly stopped with a loud bang, triggering both of the vehicle’s airbags to blow up.
After fleetingly thinking he had been shot, Mr Turner discovered his BMW had fallen into a deep pothole in the road, resulting in a dented wheel, numerous punctures and damaged suspension.
Mr Turner, who said he also suffered bruising to the side of his body from the impact, was forced to claim on his insurance for the £3,000 cost of repair work.
He reported the pothole to Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) the day after the incident.
But while the council temporarily filled in the hole, which was more than six inches deep and at least 2.5ft long and 18 inches wide, they did not permanently rectify it until spring this year.
Since then, having to claim thousands of pounds on insurance has left Mr Turner almost £700 out of pocket thanks to increased premiums and excess charges, so in August this year he wrote to CWaC asking to be reimbursed.
But they claimed they weren’t liable for the road as it had been checked four months before the incident.
However, Mr Turner claims the hole had been reported a number of times prior to this by local residents.
“Highways were well aware of an issue on the road, having had cameras down various drains which highlighted a collapsed drain that ultimately was causing the road to be undermined,” he said.
“I have spoken to local residents who are continuing to pursue this as the necessary drainage is still not completed.
“I am just horrified they’re denying responsibility – that pothole was the worst I’ve ever seen on any road except for ones dug for specific purposes.
“Although I am pleased they’ve now corrected the road, they can’t reject liability like this – it is their responsibility.
“It’s now been passed to their claims handler who has so far informed me that they are rejecting the claim because the road had apparently been checked out the previous August.
“But now I am out of pocket and my insurance has gone up as I have lost a chunk of my no claims bonus,” added Jonathan.
“At this time of year when the roads are again under attack from frost, I hope the council ensures significant surface failures like this are addressed immediately to ensure no major accidents happen.”
“I just think CWaC need to do these things – surely lives are more important than what the council usually spend their money on?
“This could have been much worse. I intend to take this to court because this hole was known about by local residents long before it was reported.
“Given that CWaC knew about it, yet did not resolve it straight away, as far as I am concerned, makes them clearly liable,” he said.
A CWaC spokesperson said: “This is an ongoing issue and at the moment it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further but we are working to resolve this matter.
“We would like to add, however, that this incident happened in the winter months and elements such as water and ice can sometimes cause potholes to expand so it is possible for small cracks in the road to dramatically change as a result of this.”