Council Must Repair Serious Potholes Urgently

Local authorities should take urgent action to repair dangerous potholes, according to one of the country’s top courts.

Lee Crawley was unable to weight bear on his ankle for a week and a half after running into a pothole while jogging near his Barnsley home in January 2012.

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council had received a phone call from a member of the public at 4.20pm the day before the accident. However, because the call came on a Friday afternoon, no action was taken until highway inspectors read the logged report on the following Monday morning.

Inspections of the “deep pothole” were carried out but by this time Mr Crawley, of Athersley North, had already suffered his injury.

The council denied liability and appealed an earlier court decision that it was responsible. It argued that its policy of fixing serious defects the following working day after they were reported was sufficient.

But in a majority decision, two Court of Appeal judges ruled in Mr Crawley’s favour, while a third dissented.

Lord Justice Briggs criticised the council’s procedure whereby serious potholes would only be examined out of hours if they were submitted by the emergency services.

Lord Justice Irwin added that while it was understandable there would be fewer staff on duty at weekends, there should be a back-up system in place to respond to reports of serious defects.

However, Lord Justice Jackson felt that such reports did not warrant urgent action at weekends.

Mr Crawley is now expected to receive compensation for his injuries.

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