COUNCILS in Hampshire have paid out tens of thousands of pounds on pothole compensation claims in the past year.

New research, released today, reveals Hampshire County Council paid out more than £70,000 in compensation claims in 2012/13, making it the eighth worst-area for potholes in the UK.

Britannia Rescue, which conducted the research, says the country is suffering a “pothole epidemic” after a lack of investment in road improvements and maintenance.

The information was gathered by sending Freedom of Information requests to councils across the country.

The figures reveal that there was a 79 per cent increase in compensation claims between 2011/12 and 2012/13, with a jump in claims from 18,283 to 32,689.

Across the country, £2.5million was paid out on compensation claims by councils.

A total of 845 compensation claims were made against Hampshire County Council in 2012/13, resulting in council chiefs paying out £70,800.01.

But although the number of claims was a big increase on the previous year's figure of 530, the council actually paid out more in 2011/12 - £72,111.64.

And in Southampton, the number of claims received by the city council jumped from 43 in 2011/12 to 61 in 2012/13.

However the city council did not disclose how much it had paid out in compensation.

The figures show Lincolnshire is the worst area for potholes in the country, with the county council spending £358,664.98 on compensation, after 1,412 claims.

Britannia Rescue's managing director Peter Horton said: “Britain's pothole epidemic has resulted from years of underinvestment in our roads and has been exacerbated by recent harsh winters.

“Local authorities face difficult choices in the roads they prioritise for repair and we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads.

“Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”