£1BN FOR NEW LOCAL ROAD IMPROVEMENTS UNDERMINED £12BN MAINTENANCE GAP

Whilst welcoming the Government’s announcement that £1bn is to be made available for English local councils to tackle congestion hotspots, the Road Surface Treatment Association (RSTA) has questioned the short sightedness of investing in new roads when the funding to maintain the roads that we already have is woefully inadequate.

“A billion pounds spent on tackling local traffic jams will not address the £12 billion gap necessary for essential repair and maintenance of the local roads that we already have”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive. “Why build new roads just to let them fall into disrepair?”

The funds are part of the £5.8 billion National Roads Fund (NRF) raised from the Vehicle Excise Fund announced by the then Chancellor George Osborne two years ago. Primarily the NRF was aimed at motorways and major A-roads.

“This is not new money. The NRF was announced two years ago and Councils will not have access to the funds until 2020 at the earliest. What is now announced is that some of the fund is to be allocated to the local road network,” said Robinson. “That is to be welcomed but we also need more funding for the rest of the local road network. Current maintenance expenditure on the local road network in the round amounts to little more that 1% per annum of its replacement cost which is far too little and we are talking about maintaining an ageing road network, not new.