A Berkshire Park woman whose tangle with a large pothole in Shanes Park last month left her with a $1000 bill approached Blacktown Council for reimbursement – with no joy.
“I was on my way to work along Stony Creek Road, Shanes Park on November 14 when I looked up and noticed a large pothole at the last minute as it was hidden amongst tree shadows,” Chantel Ingledew wrote to Blacktown Council.
“I had the option to either ram myself in bushes to my left or an oncoming car to my right or hit the pothole and hope for the best. It completely ruined my rim and my day and also made me miss a day’s work. It’ll be hundreds of dollars for repairs or $1050 for a new rim. I think the council is liable for this and I want repairs done ASAP.”
She provided footage from her dashcam of her trip along the road, which judders when she hits the pothole (see footage below).
“Returning today to take better pictures I witnessed a ute getting collected by this pothole too and local neighbours telling me about all the incidents that have happened because of this super deadly large pothole,” she said. “A neighbour in a house nearby said it had ripped out someone’s sump.”
But it wasn’t just that pothole, she said. “It’s the whole St Marys Road [which becomes Stony Creek Road] that is full of potholes that we have to dodge on a daily basis. We can never have nice things. I only recently got the latest WRX in August, and now this.
“There are too many trucks in this area now, and the roads just can’t handle it! And it’s us and our poor cars that suffer! All the money we pay for roads, for what?”
While she had initially been told by a council officer to send in a couple of quotes for the damage, she soon after received a formal letter of refusal.
The November 27 letter said the council was “unable to reimburse your expenses”.
“You can appreciate with in excess of 1150km of roadway that in spite of a vigorous maintenance program some of the matters you describe can occur without our knowledge,” the letter said..
“As a road authority, Council is not liable for damage to road users’ vehicles provided it can show it acted reasonably within the constraints of its available funds….Council is only liable where such road failure stemmed from a direct action of the authority.”
After receiving this letter, Ms Ingledew ended up getting the rim repaired for $360 as she couldn’t afford the cost of a new one, but she was told repairing the rim means it is now weakened and more vulnerable to further damage.
When asked to comment on Ms Ingledew’s plight, a spokesman for Blacktown Council said it “encourages all motorists to drive in accordance with road conditions”.
“The pothole on Stony Creek Road was first reported to Council on November 14, and the next day contractors made the area safe by temporarily filling the hole and placing witches hats around it,” the spokesman said. “Half the road was closed and repair work began on November 16 and it re-opened at 1pm on Saturday, November 18 after around 700 square metres of roadway was repaired.
“There is a long-standing principle of common law that Councils in NSW are not held responsible for car damage caused by potholes.”
A report released by NRMA in August said Blacktown Council was in the top three councils in the state when it came to road infrastructure backlog with a figure of $42.4 million, between Wollondilly and Bankstown councils.
The report indicated the situation was going to get worse before it got better. NRMA Regional Director Fiona Simson said “local councils have a tough job maintaining local roads with insufficient funds to cover basic road maintenance such as fixing potholes, gutter repair and repainting faded lines,” she said.
“The lack of an effective long term solution will mean a worsening NSW local and regional road network, with road safety being a significant concern.”
The Blacktown Council spokesman said the council encouraged residents to report all faults and repairs by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than ringing, to ensure a clear track record of reports.