Issue - meetings
Recovery of Costs Following Damage to the Highway Network
(a) That the Committee note and support the process of recovering costs for repairs following damage to the highway network; and
(b) That the recovery of costs for incidents that involve fatalities, be considered on a case by case basis.
The Highway Network Manager presented a report to inform the Committee of the process involved in reclaiming costs incurred by the Council and to provide assurance that agreed procedures were being followed. The Streetscene & Transportation service were regularly requested to attend traffic accidents and other incidents to clear debris or make repairs to the Carriageway when accidents and incidents occurred on the highway network. On these occasions, the highway network team looked to record costs, and identify those responsible for the incidents by working with North Wales Police and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), in an effort to recover costs from the individual or their insurers.
A recent internal audit of the processes in place had been requested by the service area as part of the scheduled internal audit programme. The audit took place in October 2019 and identified that the written procedures in place were acceptable and covered the process for recovering costs of rechargeable works. However, the internal audit identified that these were not being consistently followed and inaccuracies were apparent in the recorded information against claims held. Significant work had been undertaken by the service area since the audit report to refresh the process and respond to the areas identified for improvement, which were detailed within the report.
The Highway Network Manager advised that the service area do not currently follow up the recovery of costs for incidents that involve fatalities due to the sensitivities of such action. The cost of the incidents was often high and roads could remain closed for many hours to allow the Police to investigate the cause of the incident. He asked the Committee to consider whether it felt that the recovery of these costs should be considered in the future.
Councillor David Evans asked whether the Council were successful in recovering the full costs from insurance companies and also if the rates of pay from insurance companies aligned with neighbouring authorities. The Highway Network Manager explained that insurance companies often negotiated the costs to be awarded and also challenged the life of an asset which had been damaged. In some instances it was necessary to write off the debt and this had to be agreed with the Corporate Finance Manager as the Section 151 Officer. The Highway Agency in England trialled a fixed rate of pay across local authorities but this was abandoned due to lack of agreement on the fixed rates.
In response to questions from Councillors Paul Shotton and Owen Thomas around the inspections of the highway network and the difficulties in recovering costs from incidents where vehicles damaged hedgerows, the Highway Network Manager explained the process for inspection the highway network following work undertaken by utility companies. He also explained that it was not possible for the Council to share information received through the DVLA with anyone else, but he agreed to speak to Councillor Thomas following the meeting about an incident that had occurred within his own ward.
Councillor Chris Dolphin commented on the non-recovery ... view the full minutes text for item 64