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£45,000 paid out in council compensation

PUBLISHED: 11:14 24 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:04 25 August 2010

COUNCIL bosses have paid out more than £45,000 in compensation claims over the past three years, including £9,055 for a fall in a car park.

COUNCIL bosses have paid out more than £45,000 in compensation claims over the past three years, including £9,055 for a fall in a car park.

Total personal injury or damage claims made against Bexley council last year (2009-2010) were 140 costing £1,150, the year before 227, at a cost £8,450 and the year before that (2007-2008) they reached 246, totalling £35,738.

According to the Freedom of Information request by the Times, the biggest claim they had to shell out for in 2007 to 2008 was £9,055 for the fall in Bexleyheath car park on January 5, 2008.

This was followed by £6,979 for a fall in Farnham Road in Welling and £5,867 for a trip in Clifton Avenue, again in Welling.

Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance Matthew Elliott, said: "The council must work harder to reduce this bill. Taxpayers cannot afford to pay high tax only for the money to be given away thanks to council incompetence.

"Rightly or wrongly we do live in a compensation culture and taxpayers should not be made victims of that."

In 2008-2009 the largest pay out was £1,294 for damage to a garden wall by a street tree in Manor Way in Bexley on May 15, 2009. This was followed by £1,164 for yet more damage to a front wall by a street tree in Cumberland Avenue, Welling, on June 1 2009.

No claims have yet been settled for the last insurance year (2009 to 2010). The council's legal fees were £2,814 last year, reaching £7,303 two years ago.

The total amount of compensation claims settled by the council for an accident resulting in a trip or fall on council maintained property, which includes schools, was £21,667 in 2007 to 2008 and £1,733 for the year after.

All figures relate to insurance years which run from July 1 to June 30 and the council's insurance is Zurich Municipal.

A spokesperson for the council said: "The London Borough of Bexley, like many other public bodies, delivers a wide range of services which makes it a target for litigation.

"The rise of the 'compensation culture' adds to that potential exposure. Risk management and good claims handling processes help to manage the potential number of claims, but the advent of 'no win, no fee' personal injury lawyers and 'success fees' adds substantially to the cost of claims.

"It is quite common to find a court awarding £2,000 in compensation for a minor injury and two or three times that in fees to the claimant's solicitor.

"As everyone is aware, public spending is currently under great pressure. The cost of compensation and legal costs ultimately have to be found from budgets that are meant to fund local services, using taxpayers' money.

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