False Economy of Government Winter Roads Policy

11th February 2010

Scottish councils stand before floodgates of litigation over incidents related to the severe winter weather of late 2009 to early 2010, particularly personal injury and vehicle damage.

Hospital A&E wards dealt with three times the usual number of patients with broken bones sustained in falls on icy pavements and roads, while insurance companies have received hundreds of claims in respect of collisions caused by treacherous driving conditions.

Moreover, the thaw revealed an additional, hidden cost in the form of countless potholes created as snow on untreated roads was allowed to turn to ice, expanding cracks in the surface. The AA has indicated a fourfold rise in the number of claims for pothole damage.

Renfrewshire Law Centre has already highlighted the problems associated with icy roads and the false economics of councils failing to spend on grit for precautionary treatment.

25 councils say they set aside a total winter maintenance budget of about £40 million, yet current estimates point to an actual cost of closer to £100 million.

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