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Scottish councils pay out £33m in damages

A Clackmannanshire woman claimed £40 after grasscutters damaged her gnomes and, in East Dunbartonshire, a dog owner pursued the council for £57 after a pet's paws became covered in tar.

The cases were revealed in the findings of a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Scottish Conservatives.

However, with some councils failing to respond – and many cases from the last year still waiting to be resolved – the true figure is likely to be higher.

Falkirk Council topped the list of claims, paying out £6.7m, closely followed by Fife council on £5.2m and Edinburgh on £3.2m.

The majority of claims involved vehicle accidents, trips on pavements and potholes, and problems with council housing.

Other instances included a minibus being blown by the wind into a vehicle, costing £2000, and a payout of £22,000 when a vessel was damaged by a pier, both in Argyll and Bute.

In East Ayrshire an individual who fell through a bus shelter with a missing pane of glass was given £250, and council workers who struck an expensive vehicle ended up costing East Dunbartonshire Council £70,000.

When overhanging branches in Edinburgh hauled a cyclist off their bike they were given £4000, and in the same city a man who hit his head on a low ceiling was handed £2000.

Around £31,000 was awarded to commuter in East Ayrshire when a bus went too fast over a speedbump, and Midlothian Council had to pay £19,000 to someone who slipped on mud.

Scottish Conservative local government spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell MSP said: "There are a range of examples here, from the very serious to the utterly ridiculous. It is right when someone is injured, has their property damaged or is inconvenienced through no fault of their own, councils should pay up quickly and efficiently.

"However, the sheer amount of cash involved here points to the compensation culture in which we live spiralling out of control.

"Councils must be given the appropriate legal support when people make spurious claims."

Cosla president Councillor David O'Neill said: "The Conservative Party have chosen to have Scotland's councils in their sights over the festive period.

"They should perhaps remember councils are made up of all political parties and as they returned an increased number of councillors in the May elections they are having a pop at themselves to a large extent.

"The bottom line is there is far more of a compensation culture now and people are often actively encouraged to pursue claims through no-win no-fee lawyers.

"However, that said, councils only pay compensation when they have been instructed to legally – they do not pay it willy nilly and to suggest otherwise is both wrong and misleading."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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