MORE than £1.8million of taxpayers’ money was paid out in a single compensation claim involving a pothole, it has been revealed.

The figures, obtained by your County Gazette in a Freedom of Information request, show that in the 2016-17 financial year, a total of £2,137,167 was awarded to 31 claimants, with £1,836,000 paid out in a single claim by Somerset County Council.

In 2014-15, just £171,425 was paid out to 28 claimants, of which 15 were claims related to poor conditions of roads, and £895,716 was paid out to 33 claimants in 2015-16, of which 13 were related to roads.

The figures exclude legal fees.

The most expensive claim, of £1.8m, was for general damages to a third party following an accident involving a pothole defect.

The council said that, due to legal reasons, it could not go into further detail regarding the claim.

At the other end of the spectrum, the cheapest claim over the three years was a sum of £11.99 for damage to clothing caused by overgrown brambles that were not maintained.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance says that the size of the “enormous” pothole claim shows levels of “waste” and “inefficiency” across councils.

James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers in Somerset will reasonably think they had misread the enormous size of this.

“How so much could be spent on ... speaks to the high levels of waste and inefficiency across councils.

“We are lucky to have freedom of information requests to find this information out and force the council to do better.”

The top ten reasons people claim compensation from Somerset County Council:

1. Potholes

2. Drains/gullies

3. Erosion of road

4. Pavement defects

5. Trees

6. Manhole covers

7. Escape of water

8. Kerb stones

9. Weather - ice/snow/rain

10. Other carriage way defects

A 2016 study by the RAC Foundation found like that average value of a pothole claim was £432, and the average value paid to successful claimants was £306.

The figures showed that a claim was made every 17 minutes in 2015-16 across England, Scotland and Wales.

The figures included data from 204 local authorities, including Somerset.

The most common claim across the Somerset was for potholes, followed by drains and gullies, then erosion of roads.

To successfully claim compensation from the council, a person would need to prove that the authority had been negligent or breached a statutory duty.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “For a liability claim to be successful the claimant needs to prove negligence or breach of statutory duty on the part of the council.

“Often events occur that are unfortunate but not due to any party’s negligence. As such, there is no automatic entitlement to compensation or any guarantee that making a claim will be successful.

“The onus is on the claimant to prove their claim, which includes providing full details of the incident including accurate dates, locations and details of the incident to enable us to investigate the claim properly.”