North East councils fork out more than £1.6m for uneven pavement claims since 2019

Newcastle City Council has paid out more than £350,000 over three years. Credit: PA

Councils across the region have paid out more than £1.6m in compensation due to uneven pavement claims over three years.

All seven regional authorities have parted with at least tens of thousands to settle injury claims - with most forking out six-figure sums since 2019.

However, Northumberland County Council has parted with the most cash, handing out more than £670,000 to settle 53 claims between 2019 and 2022. 

One claim alone in 2021 cost Northumberland more than £128,600. South Tyneside Council ranks the lowest in terms of total compensation, paying just over £32,500 for nine claims. 

North Tyneside Council, due to changes in its databases and how claims are recorded, could not provide figures before October 1, 2019.

The list of councils and the total paid in settled claims is as follows: 

  • Northumberland County Council: £671,887

  • Newcastle City Council: £357,508.78

  • North Tyneside Council: £237,142

  • Gateshead Council: £145,812

  • Durham County Council: £105,405.50

  • Sunderland City Council: £69,473

  • South Tyneside Council: £32,516.20

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “Northumberland County Council works hard to ensure pavements across the county are safe for public use. Footways are inspected on a regular basis to identify and repair dangerous defects.  

“The council has a significant annual capital programme for footway maintenance and resurfacing works and will be reviewing the data on accidents and incidents to help identify any emerging trends or issues.

"This information will be used to shape our priorities and maintenance allocations in the coming financial year. 

“Through the new ‘Fix My Street’ portal, members of the public are encouraged to report issues such as uneven pavements so these can be resolved in a timely manner.”

Newcastle City Council has explained its payouts had been inflated by three unusually high historic claims which were not settled until 2019. The payments for these claims amounted to approximately £145,000. 

However, Newcastle City Council has also laid some blame at the feet of central Government, claiming it has not received enough funding to carry out the £184m of improvements required. 

A spokesperson for Newcastle City Council said: “We want to ensure that our roads and pavements are kept in good condition so that people can travel around our city and neighbourhoods confidently and safely.

“Like many local authorities across the country, we are finding it increasingly challenging to keep on top of highways maintenance due to a significant lack of Government funding over a number of years.

“Earlier this year, the Government announced an extra £602,400 for Newcastle, which we welcome, however, this still falls way short of the £184m that we need to carry out all of the required improvements across our network. This backlog is made up of £75m required for road maintenance and £109m needed for pavements.

“The shortfall in funding means we have had to prioritise the most urgent repairs and maintenance work to ensure that our limited resources are targeted to where they are most needed.”

Sunderland City Council stated the authority has recovered legal costs in cases where a claimant has been found “fundamentally dishonest” by a judge. All the seven regional councils stated they will continue to invest in their pavements and they are subject to regular inspections.

Previously, minister Richard Holden, the Conservative MP for North West Durham, said that increasing the national pothole budget from £500m to £700m a year will be a “major boost” to local councils.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Newcastle City Council had access to £331 million in the current financial year (2023-24), an increase in Core Spending Power of 11.3% or £33.7 million in cash terms compared to the previous year.

“In the Government’s funding proposals for next year (2024-25), we have proposed £351.7 million for Newcastle City Council – a further increase in Core Spending Power of up to 6.3% in cash terms.

“This is part of an overall funding package worth over £64 billion to support councils in England to deliver frontline services.

“Councils are ultimately responsible for managing their own budgets, however we stand ready to speak to any with concerns.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...