Almost 1,000 damages claims have been submitted to Amey – the private firm that looks after the city’s road and footpath network – in the last three years, although the vast majority are outstanding.
Only £160,000 has been paid out in more than 220 damages claims in the last three years following complaints about Birmingham’s road and footpath network, data revealed through a Freedom of Information request shows.
However, 776 outstanding claims have still not been settled leaving the contractor which looks after the city’s network facing a potentially massive bill for damages.
Birmingham’s highways and foothpath maintenance is now contracted out to private firm Amey under a £2.7 billion PFI deal which was signed in June 2010. Under the terms of the PFI agreement, Amey was responisble for investigating, defending and paying compensation to pedestrians and road-users.
The biggest single pay-out during the past three years has been to settle a personal injury claim of more than £34,000 for an incident on a council-owned footway in June 2010.
There have also been several five-figure settlements with another £22,444.59 paid to a claimant who suffered an injury on a footpath in December 2010.
The smallest pay-out has been for £50 to cover another footpath-related personal injury claim.
Figures obtained by the Post included claims settled pre-handover to Amey and also “off contract” instances where Birmingham City Council rather than the private contractor was responsible for managing claims.
A response from the city council to the FOI request said the local authority only held information about pay-outs for damages on the city’s roads and footpaths up until June 7, 2010. Since then Amey had taken responsibility for claims.
The FOI list reveals that 21 settlements were made in 2010/11 for injury caused on the city’s roadways totalling just £4,930. In the same financial period, £137,275 was paid to cover 141 injury claims resulting from incidents on footways.
Sums paid out to cover property damage claims total £15,569 paid to settle 20 demands for property damage on the city’s carriageways. This is thought to result from damage caused to vehicles from road defects.
While in 2011/12, just £1,180 has been paid to cover 28 claims for personal injury on Birmingham’s footpaths.
So far in 2012/13, there have been 12 claims for injury and a single demand for property damages, but nothing has yet been paid out.
Amey is responsible for improving and maintaining Birmingham highways infrastructure, including 2,500km of road network, nearly 100,000 street lights and over 850 highway structures and bridges across the city.
The contract has a 25-year service delivery period which includes the improvement and repair of roads in Birmingham, maintenance of footways, bridges, street lighting and traffic signals along with the upkeep of street scenery, such as safety barriers, seats and trees.
During the first five years of the partnership, Amey has pledged to remove any backlog of work and increase standards that include installing over 10,000 LED light fittings and three million sq m of reconstructed footways.
After the initial five-year investment period, Amey has also promised to maintain the infrastructure at this improved standard for a further 20 years by reducing congestion and improving safety as well as supporting the council’s overall traffic management strategy for the city’s road network.
John Sunderland, business director for Amey, said: “The 25-year contract will see a huge investment into the city’s road network. In the first five years the network will be brought up to an agreed standard which will then be maintained for the lifetime of the partnership. This investment, in conjunction with our robust inspection regime, should help to ensure that the number of claims is kept to a minimum.”
Figures show that local authorities currently pay out more than £50 million in compensation to cover damages caused by the poor state of repair on the nation’s roads.
Road maintenance in England and Wales is under-funded by around 50 per cent, or £1 billion every year.
Potholes are a major factor in causing axle and suspension failure, which counts for a third of mechanical issues on UK roads and costs British motorists an estimated £2.8 billion every year.
Authorities currently pay out more than £50 million in compensation claims due to poor roads
If all councils were given the budgets they needed to fix their roads, it would take English authorities 11 years just to catch up with the current backlog.