Jesse Norman, the transport minister, has a genius for understatement, believes the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). Giving evidence to the Commons Select Transport Committee investigation into local funding and governance, Norman described the local road network as being “not in great shape”.
Mike Harper, RSTA chief executive’ said: “When the recent Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM survey reports that one in five local roads will need replacing within the next years due to their poor structural condition, that it would cost £9.8 billion to bring the local road network up to a reasonable standard, that local roads are only resurfaced every 67 years. I would say that they are in a critical condition rather than not being in good shape.”
Harper explained how decades of chronic under-investment by successive governments in long-term maintenance: “This has left a legacy of rutted, potholed roads for which local councils are forced to carry out patch-and-mend repairs rather than undertake planned programmes of maintenance that could stop the potholes from forming in the first place.”
He pointed out that despite the economic and social importance of a road network on which the vast majority of journeys begin and end there is no long-term funding strategy for local roads. This is stark contrast to the strategic road network which has a five years assured funding that allows for long-term planning and delivery.
“The local road network must have assured long-term ring-fenced funding that will enable local councils to undertake the programmes of maintenance that are so desperately needed. Failure to provide this will continue the legacy of potholes.”