PEOPLE who injured themselves in Wokingham borough over the last five years were paid £138,000 in compensation by the council.

The largest single payout saw Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) fork out £32,000 to one person who tripped over a paving slab in the borough in 2017.

More than 100 claims were made to the authority from people who suffered trips, slips or falls in council-owned areas or in public spaces between 2014 and 2019.

However, only 23 of these compensation claims were successful – the majority of which came in the 2014/2015 year.

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WBC was forced to make nine separate payments in this year to people who, among others, fell from play equipment, fell from a motorcycle after hitting a pothole and tripped over a defect on a footpath.

This meant the authority paid £67,000 to injured claimants in 2014/2015 – almost half the amount it forked out in the entire five-year period.

Liberal Democrats councillor Imogen Shepherd-DuBey told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “This seems to involve a shocking number of accidents.

“I strongly suspect that it is still cheaper to pay out on a few claims than to routinely check everything or fix things quickly.

“Our highways and pavements are in a very poor state and I see potholes going unrepaired for weeks.

“If you were to hit them with a bicycle or a motorbike, it would be very easy to cause an accident or they could easily be a trip hazard for anyone crossing the street.”

A person who fell down an open manhole cover was given £3,000 in 2017 as a result of their injuries.

Only one claim was successfully made last year, as the council was forced to shell out £5,600 to someone who tripped on an area of uneven paving.

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WBC received five more complaints from people demanding compensation after they tripped over uneven paving in the same year, but these claims were unsuccessful.

Cllr John Kaiser, executive member for finance and housing at WBC, told the News claims are settled only where the council is legally liable.

He added: “Over the past five years the council has paid out an average of £27,600 per year, which is extremely low given the scope of our borough – and roughly 0.02% of our annual £125m revenue budget.

“Here at Wokingham Borough Council, our residents’ safety is of paramount importance.

“We work in partnership with our contractor VolkerHighways, who regularly inspect our roads to ensure safety requirements are met.

“We have a dedicated countryside team who regularly inspect our public spaces, maintaining our play areas to a high standard.”

Members of the public can report issues via WBC’s website, and residents should expect a response within 7-10 days.

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Cllr Kaiser continued: “If residents notice any issues, we encourage them to report them to us so that we can quickly repair any problems.”