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Minister demands more money to fix potholes in Northern Ireland after £1.7m bill for damaged vehicles

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Fresh investment is needed to tackle pothole compensation payouts to Northern Ireland motorists, the infrastructure minister has said

Fresh investment is needed to tackle pothole compensation payouts to Northern Ireland motorists, the infrastructure minister has said

Alex Dodd

Fresh investment is needed to tackle pothole compensation payouts to Northern Ireland motorists, the infrastructure minister has said

Fresh investment is needed to tackle pothole compensation payouts to Northern Ireland motorists, the infrastructure minister has said.

Nichola Mallon was speaking out after figures revealed £1.7m has been paid to motorists here for vehicles damaged by potholes between 2016 and 2019.

The figures obtained by BBC News NI under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act show that last year alone, £500,000 was paid to drivers.

The previous year, more than £750,000 in payouts was handed over by the DfI.

The development comes after the Belfast Telegraph reported the highest number of compensation claims come from Newry, Mourne and Down, with 1,518 recorded over the past three years.

The second highest council area was Belfast, with 1,234 claims received by the DfI, followed by Lisburn and Castlereagh on 1,168.

Fourth was Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (east and west offices) with 1,118 claims. Ranked fifth was Mid Ulster with 1,140.

These figures were also released by Mrs Mallon in response to an Assembly question from Newry and Armagh SDLP MLA Justin McNulty.

The data obtained by the BBC also shows that in 2019, there were 102,521 road defects recorded across Northern Ireland, a decrease of 24,000 on the previous year.

It also confirmed the number of successful vehicle damage claims fell from 3,533 in 2018 to 1,334 in 2019.

Road defects include cracks and potholes recorded on carriageways, hard shoulders and lay-bys.

The road with the largest number of defects (118) in 2019 was the Shore Road in Strangford, Co Down, followed by the Browns Bay Road, Islandmagee (115) and the Blackstaff Road in Clough (110).

Meanwhile, a study by comparison website Confused.com revealed that if the depth of every pothole in Northern Ireland was combined, it would be 1,338m deep - nearly eight times the depth of the English Channel.

Commenting on the latest figures, Mrs Mallon acknowledged more investment was needed for a long-term solution, despite the amount of compensation paid out reducing within the last year.

"While I have inherited severe and challenging budget constraints, I am committed to finding solutions that deliver better for our communities and improve lives," the North Belfast MLA said.

"I have impressed on the new Finance Minister the need for additional money to deal with this issue and other critical pressures.

"Sustainable infrastructure is key to improving lives and connecting communities."

Belfast Telegraph