Extra local roads funding demanded

Government must inject a further £1Bn a year into local highway maintenance or risk an ever worsening “roads crisis” throughout the country, councils warned this week.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said that the total cost of repairing English and Welsh local roads is expected to rise from £11.8Bn last year to £14Bn by 2019 unless urgent action is taken.

“It is becoming increasingly urgent to address the roads crisis we face as a nation,” said the group's transport spokesman Martin Tett, adding that 2017 could be “a tipping point year” regarding potholes.

“Councils who have experienced significant budget reductions now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14Bn to bring the nation’s roads up to scratch,” he said.

To reverse the trend the LGA is calling for the Government to invest 2p per litre of existing fuel duty in road maintenance. This, it says, could provide an additional £1Bn to fix local highways every year.

Martin Tett added: “Councils desperately need long term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade.”

Road Surface Treatments Association chief executive Howard Robinson agreed that a further £1Bn annual investment is needed which, he said, would help local authorities tackle damage done through under investment.

“Cash strapped local highway authorities are doing what they can and over the last year they have filled in over two million potholes. However the lack of assured real long term funding means that much of this is expensive reactive repair rather than cost effective preventative maintenance.”

Asphalt Industry Alliance chairman Alan Mackenzie said: “Prolonged under investment coupled with wetter winters, increased traffic and an ageing network means that the resilience of our local roads is at a low point.

“Reallocating a few pence from existing fuel duty might prove an equitable way of turning the tide, as could previous calls for Vehicle Excise Duty to be redirected to local roads from 2021.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “It is vital councils keep our roads in a good condition to deliver better journeys for drivers.

“We are giving councils in England a record £6Bn over the next five years to fix roads in their area, and on top of this we recently announced an additional £925M for repairs and upgrades. In addition, we have a £250M fund specifically to tackle the blight of potholes.”