Belfast Telegraph

Ukip to spray warning signs on Northern Ireland potholes

By Adrian Rutherford

An MLA has threatened to paint yellow warning marks around "craters" appearing in Northern Ireland's pothole-ravaged roads.

It comes as new figures reveal the authorities are paying out compensation for pothole damage 10 times a week.

In the past three years motorists made more than 1,600 successful claims against the Department for Regional Development (DRD) after their vehicles were damaged by potholes.

In one year alone 773 claims were settled - more than two a day on average.

Separately, the BBC's Nolan Show reported yesterday that £7.5m has been paid out by DRD for personal injury claims since April 2012.

It covers compensation for trips, slips and falls on footways and injuries on the roads.

David McNarry, a member of the Assembly's regional development committee and Ukip MLA, said his party was ready to take matters into its own hands. "The department, when it identifies a pothole, puts a yellow paint mark around it, and what we are going to do is help them," he said.

"We are going to identify the potholes, and we're going to spray them. By spraying them, we are also going to help public safety.

"People will be able to see these yellow markings.

"Our roads are a disgrace. These potholes are huge. On some roads they are more like craters."

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Between April 2012 and April 2015, DRD received 2,461 claims for vehicle damage caused by potholes. It settled 1,643 of these, although claims are not necessarily made and settled in the same year.

The highest number of settled claims (658) was in Transport NI's southern division, which includes parts of Tyrone and Armagh.

The figures were released by Regional Development Minister Michelle McIlveen after an Assembly question from UUP MLA Ross Hussey.

Ms McIlveen said every compensation claim was properly scrutinised. "My department thoroughly investigates every claim for compensation that it receives," she said.

"Claims received by my department in a financial year are not always concluded in the same financial year.

"This is because, inter alia, claims which are rejected may result in legal proceedings being issued."

Mr McNarry said DRD had set aside £4m for compensation claims in the current year. But he questioned its strategy. "Why not do the sensible thing and put the £4m into actually fixing the problem," he said.

A TransportNI spokesperson said: "The service that can be provided ultimately depends on the available budget, with the highest priority defects targeted first."

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