Driver goes to war with council over pothole damage and wins

FROM JOHN JEFFAY AT CASCADE NEWS LTD    0161 660 8087 /  07771 957773  Syndicated for Colchester Gazette  Frank Cattarall, standing in one of the pot holes in Greenstead Road that ruined his car    MOTORIST Frank Cattrall used a Freedom of Information request to win a payout for pothole damage to his car. . Essex County Council had refused to pay £500 bill for repairs ? claiming they hadn?t known about a 6in deep hole. But Frank, 62, turned detective, discovered that a council worker had reported the hole three months earlier, and took them to court. He?d driven over a hole in Greenstead Road, Colchester, Essex, wrecking his Renault?s suspension.  The county council refused to accept responsibility for the 18ins and 6ins deep hole ? even though a council worker had reported the hole three months earlier.

When Essex County Council refused to cover the cost of Frank Cattrall's broken suspension following a run-in with a nasty pothole, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
The 62-year-old grandfather wrote to the council explaining that a large pothole had wrecked the suspension on his Renault Espace but officials immediately dismissed his claim, citing his poor driving as the issue.

Not one to be defeated, Mr Cattrall decided to play detective and exercised his right to a Freedom of Information request that revealed that just 3 months prior to his accident, a council worker had reported the 18 inch by 6 inch hole during an inspection – but the council ignored it.

The pothole had been listed as a priority case that should have been repaired within 28 days but even with this evidence, the council continued to shirk responsibility.

Mr Catrall was forced to take his case to a small claims court where a judge ruled in favour of the former BT project manager and ordered the council to refund him £500, plus costs of £115.

"I think the council works on the basis that a lot of drivers will just throw their hands up in despair at all the obstacles which are put in their way and just forget about it as people just don't want the hassle," he told the Daily Mail.

He told The Telegraph: "It must have cost (the council) more than £1,000 to defend it. I have heard other councils are not even fighting pothole claims, they are just paying up.

"People should not give up, they should look into it further. It is a lot of hassle but at the end of the day I am a man of principles and if I feel strongly I will stand up for it."

According to Cattrall, it had been raining on the night he hit the giant pothole so it was impossible to see the cavernous obstacle, as it was full to the brim with water.

"I heard the bang and realised there might be a problem as the car was not right," he told the Daily Mail.

"My garage gave me the bad news that I had a broken suspension arm so it was a major repair job.

"Had it been a cyclist or motorcyclist who went down into that pothole, they could have been killed."
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