“It’s a diabolical way to treat a member of the public,” blasted Jamie Sutherland after Nottinghamshire County Council’s highways department refused to take responsibility for the damage or pay for repairs to his car costing £2,500.
Retired Army veteran Jamie, 51, of the Leamington Estate, has a multitude of health conditions that restrict his mobility, so he relies heavily on his automatic Mercedes Viano MPV car.
"I can only walk with the help of sticks and crutches,” he explained. “The car is my main means of transportation.
"I had just spent £9,000 on repairing the hydraulics and making it roadworthy when the accident happened in January.
"I was driving home along Stuart Street, near James Turner Avenue and Cowpasture Lane, at about 15mph.
"I just managed to avoid one pothole when I hit another one. There was a bang and I pulled over."
At the time, Jamie noticed only a flat tyre, but a respected Nottingham garage, MB Centre, later gave him a quote of £2,500 to repair a cracked and bent alloy wheel and damaged suspension.
Since then, the car has been sat on Jamie’s driveway while he pursued making a claim against the county council.
The case dragged on for five months, with Jamie claiming the council twice lost paperwork. But he has finally received a response, which said: “The council cannot be held liable for any damage occurring on a defect of which they are not aware.”
The council accepted the pothole existed and patched it up within days of being notified of Jamie’s accident. But this was “not an admission of liability”, it said.
Instead the council had “a statutory defence against claims if it can prove that any defect, no matter how dangerous, did not exist through any fault on its part at the time of the last inspection”.
The response went on: “The question of fault is determined by whether the council has in place a reasonable system of inspection and repair.
"Stuart Street is routinely inspected annually. During the last inspection in June 2021, prior to your unfortunate incident, no defects were present.”
What’s more, there had been no complaints of potholes since the inspection and up to the time of Jamie’s accident, so the council could not be held responsible.
"It’s a pathetic get-out clause,” said Jamie, who served in the Sherwood Foresters 3rd Battalion in the 1990s before working in the pub trade, including as a DJ.
"We pay road tax so that our roads are kept in good condition. It is a disgusting response from the council.”
Jamie is now mulling over what action to take next, but fears he will end up having to fork out the £2,500 for repairs.
"It is so inconvenient,” he said. “I haven’t had the car repaired yet because I was told that it would look as if I was taking responsibility for the accident.
"But it being off the road is a financial burden anyway. Because of my condition, I have to have regular blood tests, which means getting a taxi to travel to my appointments and back.
"I don’t know what to do. It is just diabolical.”