ROADS MAINTENANCE SECTOR BACKS CALLS FOR EXTRA £1 BILLION A YEAR

The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) supports calls by the Local Government Association (LGA) to address the decades of under-investment in the local road network by injecting a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance. The additional funding could be found by investing just 2p per litre of the existing fuel duty without any need to increase fuel duty rates.

LGA has made its call following analysis that shows the pothole repair bill could reach £14 billion within two years. The total amount needed to bring the country’s local road network up to a reasonable standard has been rising as the impact of under-investment is compounded by the demands of increase traffic growth. In 2012, is was estimated that £9.8 billion was needed to repair the pothole backlog. This rose to £11.8 billion in 2016. At this current rate is it predicted to rise to £14 billion by 2019.

The LGA points out that over the remaining years of the decade the Government will invest more than £1.1 million per mile in maintaining national roads – which make up just 3 per cent of all total roads. This level of investment contrasts starkly with the £27,000 per mile investment in maintaining local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97 per cent of England’s road network.

“The result is that routine road maintenance budgets have to be cut and the state of local roads will continue to deteriorate in comparison to the well-resourced national road network”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive.

He continued: Cash strapped local highway authorities are doing what they can and over the last year they have filled in over 2 million potholes. However, the lack of assured real long-term funding means that much of this is expensive reactive repair rather than cost-effective preventative maintenance that would have prevented the potholes from forming in the first place. This has long been the logical economic argument forwarded by the road maintenance industry. It costs only £2m2 to surface dress and maintain a road for 10 years but costs an average £57m2 to repair one pothole.

A further £1 billion annual investment would certainly help local authorities tackle the damage done by under-investment by successive governments.”