Selsey driver's battle over third pothole damage claim

Clive with his Ford Ka
Clive with his Ford Ka

A lawyer decided to take West Sussex County Council to court after it rejected his pothole damage claim.

Clive Thorp, 68, from Selsey, was due to have his case against the county council heard on January 29. However, Clive said the council offered him £130 as a final settlement of his claim, which included £77.70 for the damage and court costs, which he has accepted.

The contracts lawyer said he was driving with his wife on September 5 when he rolled over a pothole on the B2145, just south of Sidlesham Football Club and said the pothole damaged his car so much he had to replace the front nearside tyre.

He said: "This is the third pothole for which I have had to claim. I have reached the age that I will not be pushed around."

Clive said he has successfully submitted two previous claims to the county council for pothole damage to his car — once in May last year and the other in 2016 — but when his third and most recent was rejected he was not prepared to give up without a fight.

He said: "It is an important precedent to set. I was very surprised because they had paid out the other two and I thought it was another hardening of council policy."

Clive added that he would encourage others to fight for compensation but said the process demands 'a lot of expertise'.

"I'm a litigation lawyer and it is what I do for a living. I have fought so many cases that I know when push comes to shove most people back down."

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: "We do not use non-disclosure agreements for such matters but we have no further comment on this case. Each claim is considered on its own facts with the evidence applied to the statutory framework for the council’s legal responsibilities.”

On the West Sussex County Council website the response times for fixing potholes is five working days for potholes 100mm deep or greater and 150mm wide on all roads and within 28 days for potholes between 40mm and 99mm deep and 150mm wide on all roads. The pothole Clive encountered was 70mm and repaired within 28 days.

Clive added: "I think West Sussex has a [pothole] problem, I have done a lot of research on this — the questions is 'is this road safe?' and the answer is no."