Frustration over fall in pothole on Hayling Island

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A PENSIONER who was injured when she tripped on a pothole has spoken of her frustration at not being able to sue Hampshire County Council.

Patricia Gaffney was staying in a holiday home belonging to a friend when she fell in Copse Lane, Hayling Island, in May 2009.

The 64-year-old, from Ringwood, has suffered long-term hip and knee problems because of the accident.

But despite taking her case to a number of solicitors, all have said they can not help her because they would be unlikely to win the case against the county council.

Mrs Gaffney, a grandmother, said: ‘I would not be pursuing this unless I was actually injured.’

The time limit for making a compensation claim against the council is up at the end of this month. Solicitors will not take the case to court because Copse Lane is an unclassified road and only has to be inspected for potholes once a year.

Because the last inspection was only six months before the fall, in December 2008, the county council can not be held responsible.

It was filled in a few days after Mrs Gaffney’s fall.

Councillor Mel Kendal, who is responsible for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘As with every claim against the council, Ms Gaffney’s claim has been taken seriously and individually assessed.’

‘Without going into the details of this particular case, I can assure you that the County Council’s liability was rigorously investigated and, as you have pointed out, has been independently reviewed by two solicitors who were engaged by the claimant.

‘While we are sympathetic to Ms Gaffney’s plight, of course, the law is well established and our defence has not been challenged by her solicitors. In the light of this, it would not be appropriate to pay compensation from public funds.’