A new survey has underlined the poor state of the road network by revealing the huge backlog of road repairs needed to be undertaken. The scale of the problem means that the Government’s pre-Christmas announcement of a £6 billion fund to repair potholes over the next six years will not be enough.
The survey has been carried out by the Press Association who sent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to local highway authorities in England and found that some have thousands of potholes to repair and face a backlog costing up to £100 million. The greatest backlogs were in Leeds with up to £100 million, Gloucestershire with £86 million, Oldham with £60 million, Rochdale with £58 million, and Islington in London with £79 million. Some Councils reported that they had thousands of known potholes to repair such as Plymouth with 3,200 and Northumberland with 6,600.
A succession of severe winters and flooding together with on-going budget cuts have left many councils without the necessary resources to undertake necessary road maintenance. Indeed, Coalition spending cuts since 2010 had left 2,262 miles of local roads needing repairs. Data from the Department for Transport reveals spending on all road maintenance on local authority minor roads has dropped by 20% since 2010.
Recognising the parlous state of much of the local road network, the Government has announced a further £6 billion fund for road repair between 2015 and 2021. However, although welcomed this fails to address the £12 billion necessary to bring the local road network up to standard.
“The additional funds will not address the estimated £12 billion backlog of repairs. Nor does it address the fact that the overall funding gap for road repair continues to increase year on year”, explained Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).
He continued: “Highway authorities continue to face severe financial restraints. That is the reality. Whilst, RSTA and its members continue to work closely with local authorities to develop and implement highway maintenance efficiency programmes that will enable them to achieve ‘more for less’, the decades of under investment means that many councils are running just to stand still.”