A DRIVER'S victory over thorns that burst his tyres could lead the way for motorists across the country to seek compensation from highway authorities.

Steve Crow threatened legal action when he suffered two flat tyres as a result of trimmings left on the road after someone cut a hedge back.

Mr Crow said he asked Darlington Borough Council to clear the thorns from the road in the village of Neasham.

Despite warning the council about the hazards, the cuttings were not cleared and Mr Crow suffered two flat tyres when he drove over them.

After a three-month battle, the council has agreed to compensate Mr Crow for the tyres.

Mr Crow, 47, said he called the council a week before the incident in October and was told they would clear potentially hazardous debris from the road.

He said: "When the crunch came, they did not want to know. They inspected the road and said it was safe, but when I drove over it, there was a carpet of thorns.

"Initially they had told me they would compensate me for any damage to my vehicle, but when I asked them to reimburse me, they just referred me to their insurer, who said 'no chance'."

Mr Crow said that when he inspected the damage, there were dozens of thorns in both tyres.

He said: "I have a wife and child to think about here. The consequences of a flat tyre while driving my daughter to school do not bear thinking about. That is why I decided to pursue this."

Helen Marr, an associate solicitor at Newcastle law firm Dickinson Dees, said it was an unusual claim. She said that although it set no precedent, his victory may encourage other motorists to seek compensation for punctures.

She said: "I do not know whether this will open up the floodgates for more such claims as I would imagine it is quite a rare occurrence."

Mr Crow said the hedge-cuttings in the road had been a recurring problem in the past few years.

He said: "Unless the council do something to sort this out, we will be talking about exactly the same situation next year.

"And if that is the case, it will be the council who have to pay."

A council spokeswoman said that if something was creating an obstruction, the policy was to remove it and charge whoever was responsible for the work.