I lost the front end of my Honda scooter on a mass of road gravel causing a fair bit of damage to my bike. Once out of A&E I called the council to complain and inform them of the danger. They said they would send someone out and the area was cleared up. The council’s loss adjuster wrote to me saying they are sorry but they cannot be held to blame. They refer to a road survey conducted about two months before my accident with no defects noted. The gravel at the junction seemed to me to be a build up over time and in places was as much as 2cm deep. What can I do?
Gareth Hind, Wolverhampton
Section 41 of the Highways Act offers the council a defence to claims such as yours. This states that the council is responsible for maintaining the fabric of the road. It does not extend a liability to the Council for failing to sweep or clear the road surface.
The issue is further complicated by a court decision in the case of Valentine –v- Transport for London & Another which determined that the obligation to maintain the highway does not extend to the clearing of road detritus. The obligation to maintain the highway is limited to the inspection and repair of the road surface and the council will not therefore be liable if it is alleged that the gravel is the build-up of road detritus as opposed to a failure in the fabric of the road.