MORE than 2,500 irate drivers have made compensation claims for pothole damage, accidents and injuries on Worcestershire's roads - costing taxpayers £400,000.

Data for the last five years show how an average of 506 drivers a year are going to Worcestershire County Council to ask for money after incidents like dented cars, wrecked tyres or personal injuries on the roads network.

Since 2009 the council has had to pay out £393,449 in compensation - enough money to employ 10 new children's social workers or revamp a primary school.

Your Worcester News can also reveal how the number of reported road defects in Worcestershire has increased 34 per cent compared to five years ago.

The council insists it is happy with the findings and say the number of claims being settled have dropped drastically, going from a high of 260 in 2009 to 49 in 2013/14, the lowest in five years.

The yearly costs to taxpayers for compensation has also fallen steadily, and was £9,449 last year compared to a whopping £137,000 five years ago.

The findings come after repeated surveys have shown how the condition of roads in Worcestershire is among the public's biggest concern, ranking alongside the care of children.

The public reported 14,100 defects last year, up from 10,500 in 2009, with the council saying more people are using its online system.

The compensation claims are handled by an external insurance firm.

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "Because more people are now reporting potholes and other defects we're more aware of it than ever before.

"That means we can get it logged quicker and get it looked at much faster, so that's helped us with these claims.

"We're also getting much better at getting more information to the insurance company, which means we are being more successful in defending claims.

"It's not as if we're not paying for genuine claims, we still do.

"The figures are good news for us as they clearly show improvements."

Among those to be refused compensation last year was 55-year-old builder Derek Jones, who forked out £165 to replace a tyre after going over a shocking pothole in Norton, near Worcester.

Mr Jones was driving along Church Lane when his black Kia Cee'd hit the hole, causing a burst front tyre on the passenger side and dislodging internal parts of the vehicle, meaning it had to be re-aligned at a garage.

He said: "They've since spent a load of money in Church Lane, to be fair, but in general I still think the roads are horrendous.

"I know one bloke who went over a pothole in Malvern in a BMW and it cost him £500 to repair the damage."