One in six local roads in Britain may need replacing in the next five years because of a worsening pothole problem, experts warned today.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance released this year’s ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey today along with a stark warning of the effect that increased traffic and wetter winters in recent years have had on the ageing roads network.
For the roads to be brought up to a good level, local authorities need more than £12 billion and a decade to implement the changes, the report claims.
Government funding allocated to the local road network has been criticised for being significantly below what is needed and calls have been made for it to be increased. Last year, the shortfall between how much England’s councils needed and how much they received was almost £730 million.
Highlighting the problem caused to vehicles, AA President Edmund King said on BBC Breakfast today that about £6 million was paid out each year for cars broken by potholes.
The government is reported to have given an extra £1 billion recently to repair potholes, but Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, wants more, saying: “Our local roads are failing and it’s time we had a rethink about how to adequately fund them in the future.
“Clearing the maintenance backlog remains impossible without a significant increase in funding.”
— AIA (@AIA_Asphalt) March 28, 2017
In response to the report, Judith Blake, transport spokeswoman at the Local Government Association, said that local councils fixed a pothole every 19 seconds last year and added: “Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The government’s own projections show an 85.5 per cent increase in congestion by 2040.
“Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network needs over the next decade.
“Our polling has shown that 83 per cent of those polled would support a small amount of the billions paid to the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.”
Mackenzie supported her call, adding: “The fact remains that our local road network receives only a fraction of the funding allocated to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) and this disparity needs to be tackled proactively if further decline is to be prevented.
“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. Either way, the LGA is right that time is running out and that local roads maintenance should now be a national priority.”