Developing

Potholes: 'Crumbling Road Crisis' Warning

England and Wales are facing a "crumbling road crisis" according to a report that says the cost of repairing all the countries' potholes would be £10.5bn.

The road survey carried out by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has found one in five local roads is in "poor condition", which is defined as having five years or less life remaining.

Lack of funding for road repair work is blamed by the group, with local authorities in England reporting a shortfall in their annual budgets of £829m.

Rosemarie Dutton broke her leg after tripping up on a pothole while crossing the road in Middlewich, Cheshire, last month.

She told Sky News: "I was checking on the lights that they weren't going to change on me and before I knew it I was down on the floor due to one of the large potholes on the pedestrian crossing.

"Obviously I was in excruciating pain and no-one came to help me - I was amazed."

Mark Morris' son wrote off his car after he hit a pothole and lost control of the vehicle.

He told Sky News: "He hit a pothole which appears to have disconnected the steering of the car.

"As he came down the hill and turned into the bend his steering just hasn't been engaged with the wheel - and the wheel's turned left straight into a lamp post."

The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on Whitehall to free up money and invest it in resurfacing roads.

Councillor Peter Box, the chairman of the LGA, said: "Keeping roads safe is one of the most important jobs councils do and over the past two years they have fixed almost four million potholes - one every 16 seconds.

"Almost half a billion pounds is being taken away from us and our general fund is being reduced by some 30%.

"Now something has to give. It's no good anyone saying 'well, actually, you should be doing this despite the fact that your budget's being cut'."

But the AIA report says there is a mounting cost to councils of not repairing roads. Last year £32m was paid out in road user compensation claims.

It is estimated that poorly maintained roads are costing small and medium-sized businesses £5bn a year in reduced productivity, increased fuel consumption, damage to vehicles and delayed deliveries.

Andy Jennings runs a taxi firm in Sandbach and has recently had to spend £400 repairing the suspension on two of his vehicles

He told Sky News: "Obviously we can't afford to do this at the moment. In times of recession every penny counts."

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "We are providing councils with more than £3bn between 2011 and 2015 to maintain their roads and pavements.

"In December 2012 we announced an extra £215m to help councils get the best out of their road network.  This is on top of the additional £200m we gave to councils in March 2011 to repair local roads damaged by the severe winter weather in 2010.

"It is ultimately up to local highway authorities to determine how they prioritise their funding, but we want to help them get the best value for money.

"That is why we are funding the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme, which helps councils work together to deliver a first-class service to their residents, at the same time as saving money."