The two Tory contenders vying to become party leader and Prime Minister have set out their initial spending plans to ensure that post-Brexit the UK is open for business and that the Conservatives have a shot of winning the next General Election. Investing in improving the deteriorating local road network would help them meet both objectives believes the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).
“If they want to ensure that Britain is open for business then Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt should both be calling for increased investment in a well-maintained local road network”, said Mike Harper, RSTA chief executive. “A well-maintained local road network is essential for our national economic prosperity. It is the prerequisite link to the national road and rail network, to the ports and airports, between peoples’ homes and places of work.
Unfortunately, successive governments have failed to recognise this and despite the vast majority of journeys being taken using the local road network, it has failed to match the expenditure provided to maintain the national road network with that provided to maintain the local road network. National roads and motorway maintenance receives 53 times more funding than local roads.”
Harper points out that result of the lack of spending on road maintenance, according to the latest ALARM Survey from the Asphalt Industries Association, is that one-in-five local roads are classed as being structurally poor and in such a bad condition that they need to be replaced within the next five years.
The need for greater investment in local road maintenance is supported by the research and survey evidence from key industry organisations such as the British Chambers of Commerce, the EEF and the CBI who all report that their members believe that the deteriorating state of the local road network is increasingly a barrier to business.
The poor potholed state of many of our roads is of considerable concern to many drivers. With thirty five million drivers in the UK, most with the ability to vote, any future prime minister would be well advised to take note of that concern. Of particular concern is that the billions of tax paid by drivers does not seem to go towards funding a better road network. . Motorists pay £58 billion in taxation to the Exchequer – £26.9 billion in fuel duty, £25 billion VAT on fuel and £6.1 billion for other motoring taxes. Against this just £2.06 billion is provided by central government as funding for local road maintenance. Furthermore, as it is not ring-fenced, the funding may not even be spent on road maintenance but on other council services as cash-strapped councils struggle to balance the books. The result is a deteriorating local road network that needs £9.79 billion to bring it back up to a satisfactory standard.
Harper said: “Johnson and Hunt both need to prove that they fully recognise the social and the economic benefits of a well-maintained local road network and that they are ready to provide the necessary levels of funding. Such investment would provide a national economic boost, would relieve cash-strapped local councils and would prove to be a vote winner.”