£440k pothole payouts to drivers in Northern Ireland
A Stormont department paid out close to £440,000 to motorists for damage caused by potholes in just under two and a half years, figures have revealed.
The Department for Infrastructure paid out more than 75 claims a month on average for damage due to road surface defects.
Figures released following a Freedom of Information request show that between April 2015 and August 2017 some 3,891 claims were made, with 2,198 of these being successful. The average award paid out was £200.
During that period, the department repaired 193,721 surface defects, at a cost of more than £24m.
The department said expenditure on road repairs does not reflect the cash paid to contractors, but is an engineer's assessment of what the value of the work completed was each month.
The district that saw the most repairs was Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, with 30,230 repairs in the period.
High numbers were also recorded in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (29,155), Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (22,162) and Belfast (20,368). Ards and North Down had the least surface repairs, with 5,961 over the period.
AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: "We are not just talking about c ars getting broken and compensation, we are talking about the possibility of cyclists getting killed."
He pointed to the case of Roger Hamer, an 83-year-old cyclist who was killed last year in Bury, England after falling from his bicycle. In the coroner's report, it was concluded that Mr Hamer's death "had probably" involved a pothole, with three recorded in the carriageway near to where he fell.
"It shows it is not just a matter of busted wheels, tyres and suspension. It does threaten people's lives," Mr Bosdet said.
A Department for Infrastructure spokeswoman said: "Despite a challenging budgetary situation, the department has delivered a significant programme of resurfacing and surface dressing this year and continues to carry out a programme of routine maintenance, including pothole repairs and street lighting repairs, to meet all essential public safety requirements."