The £200 million of additional funding announced today for highway maintenance as part of the Budget 2023 should be used to protect and preserve the network as well as fill potholes, says the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).
This is the only way to stop potholes forming in the first place, says the association, which welcomed the additional funding but said more incentives need to be given to local authorities in any future allocations to deliver more proactive work, to reduce the money councils have to spend on pothole repairs and resurfacing.
Paul Boss, Chief Executive of the RSTA said: “After the last Spending Review there was a 25-30% reduction in capital funding for highway maintenance and the same again due to the hyperinflation experienced last year, this funding is therefore very welcome. The DfT is clear in its statement that while money can be used to fix potholes it is ‘committed to allocating this funding to local highways authorities so they can most effectively spend this funding on maintaining and improving their respective network, based upon their local knowledge, circumstances and priorities.’
“We support this commitment as the first step to helping to deliver a more proactive approach to maintenance. But the next step is incentivising any future funding for councils to deliver more proactive and sustainable surface treatments which will help keep the roads in a decent state, in better condition for longer and stopping potholes forming in the first place, whilst also reducing carbon generation and protecting our planet for future generations. Highway maintenance cannot just be about reactive repairs we have to think about how we look after our vital local road network for the future and a big part of that is protecting and preserving it, AKA dealing with the root cause of potholes.”
The DfT said the £200m funding was in addition to the existing highways maintenance funding settlement announced in the October 2021 Spending Review, which committed over £2.7 billion of local highways maintenance funding between tax years 2022 and 2025 to local authorities outside of London and the 8 largest city regions.
The DfT added: “DfT strongly advocates a risk-based whole lifecycle asset management approach to local authority highways maintenance programmes. This considers all parts of the highway network, such as bridges, cycleways, and lighting columns – and not just the fixing of potholes.”