The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey has identified 24,000 miles of roads with potholes and last year its operators were filling one every 21 seconds.
Councils have told them each authority needs an additional £3.3 Million to keep up with improvements and £9.3 Billion to restore roads to a long term future after years of under-spending.
Even if the go-ahead was given and funds found it would take 14 years for the one-time catch up to be achieved, and then it would have to restart due to wear and tear.
The losing fight is the highlight of the repairers annual report published today which includes comments from motoring bodies and councils’ groups.
There is a north and south divide across the UK with most of the repairs needed in the colder and wetter north but they get only two-thirds of that spent in the south.
|Rick Green, Chairman of the AIA, said, “Although local authorities report an increase in average highway maintenance budgets this year, looking back over the last decade they have barely kept in line with in ation.
“This is reflected in road condition, with one in five of our local roads now classed as structurally poor – with less than five years’ life remaining – compared with one in six reported last year.
“Local roads are a vital asset, worth in the region of £400 billion, and they support all aspects of our daily work and home lives, but funding for their adequate maintenance has fallen short for so many years that further deterioration is inevitable.
The state of Welsh roads
Welsh roads are on average completely resurfaced every 71 years and local councils need £27.4 Million to make them reasonable again.
It amounts to a shortfall for Welsh road repairs of £3.1 Million per authority and Wales has the longest wait to clear a backlog of jobs, some 24 years, almost double the time in England and three times that in London.
Teams filled 131,500 potholes in Welsh roads last year while road users claimed £590,000 from councils for personal and vehicle damage due to poor roads.
“We accept that there is no magic wand to wave, nor is there a bottomless pot of money to tap into. There are difficult choices to be made at both local and national level but the government needs to provide adequate funding for a well maintained and safe local road network if it wants to support communities and drive economic growth.”
Nicholas Lyes, RAC Head of Roads Policy, said, “It’s time for some fresh thinking when it comes to nally getting on top of Britain’s pothole problem. Short term funding and creating pots by which local authorities can bid for cash doesn’t appear to be addressing the root cause of the problem. Instead, the Government should be looking at how it can guarantee councils the certainty of reliable long-term funding so that they can finally bring every road up to a standard road users think is acceptable. “
His colleague Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation, went on, “It is easy to understand why our roads are literally fraying at the edges. After World War II there were 2 million cars in Great Britain. Today there are more than 30 million. The road network is as much a vital utility as the energy, water and telecoms systems and yet we risk taking it for granted. Adequate investment is needed, if not to bring every inch up to a perfect standard then at least to arrest the decline that is all too evident to tens of millions of road users.”
AA President, Edmund King pointed out, “The ALARM survey takes on a huge importance this year as the deadly impact of Britain’s crumbling roads was made clear by the Government a fortnight ago. Responding to a parliamentary question, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport Jesse Norman revealed that four cyclists had been killed and 60 seriously injured in 2016 following accidents involving potholes. Since 2007, defective road surfaces have contributed to 22 cyclist deaths and 368 serious injury incidents.
“This is the stark reality of the gures the ALARM survey reveals year in and year out. With 2016/17 maintenance expenditure down almost 11% on local authority minor roads, the danger faced by vulnerable road users and the threat of damage to cars never seems to recede.”
It’s worse for those on two wheels, said Roger Geffen, Policy Director at Cycling UK, “As well as being hugely aggravating for drivers, potholes can seriously endanger cyclists and can even prove fatal. The Government is spending vast sums on new motorway and trunk road capacity, while leaving local streets to rot.
“Given the Government’s its ambitions to improve the nation’s health, tackle congestion and pollution, and improve the safety of our streets, it needs to fundamentally rethink the balance of transport funding, devoting far more to maintaining and improving our local streets so that people can walk and cycle in safety.”
Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Transport spokesman, added, “It is 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. Spending more on improving our national roads will only serve to speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads.
Turning to planning for the network upgrade and improvement, Parvis Khansari, Chair of ADEPT Engineering Board, whose members plan schemes, said, “ADEPT wants focus on maintaining roads to the appropriate standards and avoid repairing potholes altogether. This will only be achieved if the previous accumulation, built up over decades is resolved through a national programme of investment in local roads.
“ADEPT is working with highways authorities and the rest of the sector to improve the resilience of our road transport through better and more e cient asset management. Prevention is much more economical than cure, we want to work with the Government to remove the backlog and ensure funding for road maintenance is su cient enough to support asset management strategies.”