A district judge has criticised the London Borough of Ealing for squandering hundreds of pounds in a dispute over a pothole claim.
The council spent the money employing top London solicitors Watmores to defend a claim for £90 by local resident Andrew Hillier, after his bike’s rear wheel was buckled while using a cycle lane in
Despite the council admitting that the pothole was of sufficient depth to require immediate repair, it decided to defend the claim and subsequently lost. In summing up the case at Brentford County Court, District Judge Mr Plaskow said that he was deeply disappointed that the council had decided to defend the case in spite of overwhelming evidence in favour of the claimant. “In my opinion this case should never have found its way to an open court for trial,” he said.
He added that the council was extremely fortunate that the road defect had not caused serious injury and advised it to consider whether or not defending claims for such small sums was in the taxpayers’ interest. Mr Hillier was awarded £170 in damages.
Mr Hillier said: “I’m absolutely delighted by the outcome today. As the judge stated, this case should never have been brought to trial. As a taxpayer, I’m outraged at the amount of time and money the council has wasted trying to defend the indefensible.
“Ealing Council consistently talks about being a cycle-friendly council but the fact remains that many of the designated cycle routes within the borough are strewn hazards. The council needs to learn that painting a green strip on the highway does not alone make a cycle lane.”
A Council spokesman said: “We respect the court’s decision. This was a complicated case and since this incident the road has been repaired. Last year we spent a significant amount on enhancing cycle paths in the borough and the Council will continue to make such improvements to its roads and footpaths.”