The Government has said that it will make £100 million available to local councils in England and Wales to repair our pothole-ridden roads. The money adds to the £75 million already pledged by the Government for the Pothole Action Fund and the £46 million promised to the highways authorities.
The funding promise came a week after a survey revealed that Britain has 24,496 miles of roads that will fail if they aren’t repaired in the next year – that’s one in five of our local roads. Long-term underinvestment and ineffective government funding, as well as bad weather earlier this year, were cited as reasons for the deterioration in road surfaces.
The ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey is carried out by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA). Feedback from more than 60% of the local authorities in England and Wales indicate that it would take 14 years to get our local roads back to a decent state.
Unlike motorways and trunk roads, which are maintained directly by Highways England and Wales, smaller roads are maintained by local authorities. The survey revealed that the shortfall between government funding for councils and the amount it would cost to fix local roads is more than £556m – more than £3.3m for every authority.
Although more than 1.3 million potholes were filled in England and Wales in 2017, the AIA says this is not the best long-term solution to the problem.
AIA chairman Rick Green said: “We should be focusing on improving the overall condition of our local roads, rather than wasting time filling in potholes.
“Potholes are a symptom of poorly maintained roads. They need to be stopped from forming in the first place by providing cash-strapped local authorities with sufficient funds to ensure they are fit for purpose.”
“It's wrong that funding for local roads is miles behind that of the strategic road network. Very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road yet government funding on the strategic road network is 52 times higher than for local roads,” commented councillor Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Transport spokesman.
“Spending more on improving our national roads will only serve to speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads. The LGA has been calling on the Government to reinvest 2p per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance which, would generate £1 billion a year for councils to spend on the road repair backlog,” he added.
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