MOTORISTS who have fallen foul of the town’s pothole-ridden roads have claimed in their droves for compensation - after figures obtained by the Chronicle revealed cases have more than doubled to record-breaking highs in a year.

A total of 286 claims were successful against Barnsley Council in 2022/23.

Having been pursued by motorists whose vehicles sustained pothole-related damage whilst driving on routes across the borough, the cost totalled £45,362, according to a Freedom of Information request.

It is more than double the previous year’s £22,319, which saw 116 people receive a pay-out.

Cases have rocketed since before the pandemic, with a 75.4 per cent increase in successful claims.

Extreme weather was blamed for ravaging Barnsley’s road network last winter - but highways bosses set out a multi-million pound plan to rectify rising complaints from motorists.

The council’s highways programme for 2023/24 was signed off, which includes improvements totalling £20.4m, as well as an extra £2m to boost the town’s roads and side streets.

Senior highways officers have proposed improvements at more than 50 locations in Barnsley, meaning work will be carried out in each of the town’s 21 wards.

Coun Hannah Kitching, who represents Penistone West, said: “This government’s overseen a pothole pandemic on our roads.

“It’s now become almost impossible to drive in some parts without having to swerve to avoid potholes.

“This has led to drivers having to claim for damage to their vehicles or even personal injury caused by crater-filled roads.

“Cash-strapped councils are being left without the funding to maintain roads properly while having to shell out thousands of pounds in pothole pay-outs.

“Local authorities need to have their highway maintenance budgets urgently restored so that we can end this vicious cycle.

“There are numerous potholes which have been reported many times and filled repeatedly.

“The problem has now gone beyond potholes - the substance used to fill the potholes has all washed out, and the road is covered with a large amount of loose debris which is creating an additional hazard as well as the reformed potholes.

“I have had other reports of cracked windscreens from flying debris and also damaged wheels.”

Pothole claims nationally rose to 23,042 last year, almost double the 13,579 claims the previous year.

Compensation paid out to motorists also climbed to £1.77m, up six per cent from £1.66m.

According to the information obtained by the Chronicle, it costs an average of £158 to repair each pothole - but in some cases the council’s forked out more than £2,300.

Coun James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, added: "Like every council every year, we're seeing the impact of the winter weather on our roads with the emergence of potholes.

"Using the £20.4m investment from our accelerated highways capital programme, we've been making proactive repairs and improvements to roads in all 21 of our wards.

“This has included structural, preventative, and reactive works to make sure our roads are strong and reliable.

"So far, we've finished 93 per cent of our planned schemes, including some big projects like Town End roundabout, Westway, and Dodworth Road.

“We know the works may cause temporary inconveniences, but we're confident the long-term benefits for the community outweigh these short-term disruptions.

"We extend a massive thank you to our dedicated highways team for their commitment to working around the clock in all weather conditions.

“Their efforts are vital in the successful delivery of these important projects."