9th March 2010

Potholes Bournemouth - Act Now

A Forum member has recently had his claim, for two tyres which were wrecked when he hit a deep pothole in Throop Road, rejected by the council on the grounds that that particular pothole had not been previously reported.

The Forum Member was “flabbergasted” when his claim against the council’s insurer, Zurich, was turned down because no-one had told the Council the hole was there.

Larry Austin, Bournemouth Borough Council’s Street Services Manager, is reported to say:

“If defects in the road appear between our inspections and they are not reported to us, the Council may not be liable for any damage they may cause. There is no automatic right to compensation, but claims are considered on the basis of legal liability.”

The Council’s insurer, Zurich, states:

“The highway authority has a duty to keep the highway free from defects, but is required to do what is reasonably practicable.”

“In the case of potholes they will have a system, that prioritises road inspections - e.g. via a rota system based on the type of road. So long as they can demonstrate they have a reasonable system of inspection and frequency proportionate to the road type/usage, they are not to be automatically held accountable.”

Forum members need to be proactive - if you see a pothole:-

E-mail: highwaysmaintenance@bournemouth.gov.uk or

Telephone: (01202) 451199 (during normal office hours) or

Telephone: (01202) 451145 (outside normal office hours) or

Fax: (01202) 451007

For more information, go to the Council website, Potholes, Defects and Personal Injury page:- http://www.bournemouth.gov.uk/Residents/roads/maintenance/Potholes_Defects_Personal_Injury.asp

Pothole defects are logged for repair on the decision of an inspector, who works to the standards set by the Code of Practice, using skill and judgement in this process.

Where a pothole is noted for Category 1 repair, this is required to be made safe and temporarily repaired within 24 hours of first inspection, then maintained in a safe condition until a permanent repair is completed. All other defects are repaired under programmed routine maintenance.

Highway Inspection Category 1 Defect Guidelines


  • Potholes in excess of 40mm deep
  • Depressions or ridges in excess of 40mm over 1000mm
  • Vertical faces in excess of 40mm
  • Illegal obstructions which reduce the carriageway width