Leeds city council is to review its pothole repair policy in light of a landmark legal judgement.
The Court of Appeal recently upheld a decision of a lower court criticising the way that Barnsley Council responded to reports of road defects out of hours. Barnsley had logged a call from a member of the public about a pothole on a Friday afternoon, but the council only inspected it on the next working day (a Monday). Many councils rely on a similar system. But the courts said that council staff should be trained to evaluate reports about defects when they come in, or they should be instructed to forward reports to an ‘on-call’ highways inspector.
In a written answer to a question I asked at the last Council meeting the Council admitted that the court’s decision has implications for Leeds, and it has promised to review its repair policy in order to align itself with the new code.
This court decision will be looked at closely by councils up and down the country, and I’m pleased that Leeds city council will also be considering the implications as part of a review of its repair policy.
First and foremost we should have robust procedures in place that can identify and repair road defects in a timely manner, whenever they are reported, in order to prevent potential injury to road users and pedestrians. But failing to have the proper policy in place could also end up being very expensive for the council in compensation claims, if similar policies aren’t considered sufficiently robust by the courts.
I hope that the council can soon bring forward a revised policy. It would also be a good idea for the scrutiny board to play a role in this process, so that we can ensure Leeds has watertight procedures in place.