MORE than £1 million of taxpayers’ cash has been paid out in compensation to Hampshire motorists due to potholes, it has been revealed.

The majority of this total came from Hampshire County Council, which shelled out £891,847 between 2013 and 2017 to cover damage to vehicles and injuries.

This includes £113,568 to cyclists alone.

The authority’s most expensive year was 2015 when it spent £361,821, with its cheapest year coming last year spending £58,483.

It also splashed out £218,031 in legal costs defending claims.

Southampton City Council was found to have spent a combined £168,424 in the same period.

In total, both authorities spent £1.27m on compensation and legal costs.

The figures were unearted through Freedom of Information requests submitted by Cycling UK, which runs Fill That Hole, a pothole reporting app.

Sam Jones, Cycling UK’s senior campaigns officer, said: “Cycling UK’s research has shown the true cost is a human one as people cycling are suffering from personal injury and in the worst cases even dying.

“The government should concentrate on fixing the underlying problems of our current local roads network before building new ones.

“Councils need enough funding to adopt long-term plans for roads maintenance, as repairing streets only as they become dangerous can only ever be a short-term solution.”

Nationally it found that councils spent £43.4 million in five years, with each authority incurring an average of £277,707, which is almost a third of what HCC shelled out.

A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: “Because Hampshire is one of the largest counties with many more miles of road to look after than most, it is inevitable that the number of pothole claims is larger than those in a smaller authority.

“A better comparison would be to look at the number of claims per 100 miles of highways where Hampshire compares very favourably with others in the South East and England generally.

“We note that not all authorities provided information in response to the request, and those that use insurance companies to handle their claims may also not be in a position to provide comprehensive compensation information.

“Hampshire County Council remains committed to providing well maintained roads, and to minimising pothole numbers, always looking for efficient, value for money and innovative ways to look after Hampshire’s roads.”

Southampton City Council did not respond to a request for comment.

It comes just days after the government pledged an extra £3 million to HCC to help mend damaged roads. Nearly £200,000 was also given to Southampton City Council.

The cash from central government will go towards filling in potholes and repairing damage from the “beast from the east”.

But residents said it was a long time coming – and that the streets they live in have been “disgusting” for years.

Case Study

In July 2017, Janet Smith was cycling with her husband Richard in Winchester, when she was forced to the edge of the road by a passing car and hit a pothole.

She lost control and suffered concussion, severe cuts and bruises to her knees, elbows and face, and knocked her two top teeth out.

She needed 15 stitches to the inside and outside of her mouth, and was hospitalised for two days.

The damage to her teeth has left her with £3,000 in dental fees.

“I don’t remember having the accident at all, the first thing I remember is being told I was going to have a CT scan”, said Janet.

“I feel too nervous to ride my bike now following the accident, I might not be so lucky next time.

“I was out of action for some time recovering; I was unable to attend my usual fitness classes and yoga for at least four months.”

No claim was made against the council as Janet felt it would be too much effort and unlikely to succeed, as it would be impossible to prove how long the pothole had been present.