Sorry state of Kirklees' roads revealed as council need to find £250m for necessary works

Potholes near the Dusty Miller pub
-Credit: (Image: Abigail Marlow)

Kirklees’ roads are in a state of “managed deterioration”, according to Kirklees Council, needing £267m worth of investment against the local authority’s £13m budget.

The sorry state of the borough’s roads and those across the country has been highlighted in a report to tomorrow’s Cabinet (July 9) meeting.

The report says: “The latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey shows that nationally, more than half the local road network is reported as having 15 years or less of structural life remaining, and that £16.3 billion is now needed to tackle the backlog of carriageway repairs in England and Wales – the highest figure in 29 years of reporting.

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“In Kirklees, the total road network maintenance spend required is circa £267m against an annual allocated budget of circa £13m. Principal Roads spend is estimated to be circa £28m, B&C road circa £29m, and the Unclassified road network is estimated to be circa £21m. The highway network is therefore in a state of managed deterioration.”

The meeting tomorrow will see Cabinet asked to approve investments of £24.2m and £17.1m for Kirklees’ highways infrastructure for the years 2024/25 and 2025/26, respectively. This is set out in the Highways Capital Plan, and is made up of various funding sources like government grants and borrowing.

If the recommendations get the green light, this year, just over £1.3m will be spent on potholes - a problem plaguing the borough.

In the last financial year, Kirklees Council spent £1,655,162 repairing 33,908 potholes, an FOI revealed, and in 2022, Kirklees was branded the second worst place for potholes in the UK, according to research by the Bill Plant Driving School.

Surface dressing works are being carried out on 32 Kirklees roads this summer in an attempt to stop potholes from forming in the first place. The council has said previously that this type of maintenance is “often the most efficient, sustainable and cost-effective form of intervention.”

The report to tomorrow’s meeting continued: “As with all assets, there is a need to continue to invest in the Kirklees road network to counter natural and user-derived deterioration, and to allow roads to meet the expectations of users.

“An inadequately maintained network can present a danger to highway users, create congestion and pollution through unplanned road works, cause a detrimental impact on the local economy, and lead to an increase in ‘third party’ claims against the Council for vehicle damage and/or personal injury.

“All these factors present an unforeseen burden on the highway revenue budget and staff resources, resulting in a significant proportion of the budget being spent on purely reactive maintenance as opposed to preventative measures.”

As well as covering road works, the cash will be used to invest in the borough’s footbridges, retaining walls, active travel, and streetlights.

Streetlights across Kirklees have already been replaced with more energy-efficient LED versions through the lantern replacement programme. The street lighting team is continuing with the replacement of the concrete columns, just under 75 percent of which are at the end of their life being over 40 years old.

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