FOUR Gwent councils paid out more than £300,000 in compensation for motor claims involving refuse vehicles over the past five years.

A Freedom of Information request made to Blaenau Gwent, Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Caerphilly councils asked how much was paid out in compensation to third parties and their representatives for motor claims dating from 2008 to 2013, including property damage, injury, hire charges, solicitor fees, medical fees and expert fees.

In a response dated October 14, Newport council said it had paid out £35,236.05 during that time. This was a fraction of the amount paid by Caerphilly council, whose total payments amounted to £153,105.59.

A spokeswoman for Caerphilly council said: “To give the figures some context, Caerphilly council has 27 front-line waste collection vehicles, which are out across the county borough every day.

“Approximately 40,000 collections are made each day, with the waste collection teams and vehicles servicing over 75,000 domestic properties and nearly 2,000 commercial properties.

“In excess of 60,000 tonnes of waste are collected, including recycling and food/green waste.”

Torfaen council responded to say that it does not hold this information as “the authority does not make any direct payments for claims of this nature. Claims would be made directly from our insurance company.”

The second highest amount of those Gwent authorities who responded was from Monmouthshire Council, where the total amount paid in settlement of refuse vehicle motor claims between 2008 and 2013 was £101,434.86.

A spokesman for the council said the authority has a population of 91,000 and an area of 850 square kilometres, the largest in area of the Gwent local authorities and bigger than the other four put together.

Excluding motorways and trunk roads, Monmouthshire has about 1,500 kilometres of road and its fleet consists of 22 recycling and waste collection vehicles of varying sizes.

Its drivers must hold a driving licence applicable to the vehicle they are driving while drivers handling vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes receive additional theory training.

Drivers and crews undertake general health and safety training, including for example, reverse assistant training; monthly crew meetings are held on health and safety; and when new lorries are introduced, drivers are given familiarisation training on how to use/operate the vehicles by the manufacturer.

During 2012/13, there were 12 claims amounting to £4,813.22, the lowest for five years. In 2011/12 there were 16 claims amounting to £6,299.95; in 2010/11 there were 22 claims, amounting to £25,812.20; in 2009/10 there were 19 claims, totalling £44,887.34; and in 2008/9 there were 15 claims, adding up to £19,622.15.

In Blaenau Gwent the council paid £21,483.21 to third parties in relation to refuse vehicle claims between April 2008 and March 2013.