PAYOUTS to drivers in Herefordshire for pothole damage to their vehicles have shot up this year after a four-year lull.

Already £8,119 has been paid out to drivers in 2023 so far, compared to an average for the three previous years of £3,067, figures from a freedom of information request show.

Curiously, this does not seem related to the amount the county council has spent on fixing the problem, with the figure for this broadly stable at between £1.6 million and £2.1 million for the last six years.

The state of the county’s roads emerged as a key issue in last May’s local elections, which led to a minority Conservative administration taking over from the previous Indpendents for Herefordshire-Greens coalition.

Herefordshire Council announced in September that a “significant number” of the county’s minor roads would be improved, “beginning with patching repair work”, thanks to extra government funding of £2.6 million.

Cabinet member for roads Coun Barry Durkin said this would mean “longer-lasting and more reliable road surfaces, reduced instances of reactive maintenance, more efficient journeys and less wear and tear on vehicles”.

Claims against vehicle damage can be made via the council’s website. But applicants must prove that the road had not properly maintained and was dangerous, and that this caused the damage.

The council will reject claims where it can demonstrate that “all reasonable steps” were taken to ensure the road was safe.