The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) has called upon the Chancellor to announce in his forthcoming Spring Budget his delivery of the Conservative Party Election Manifesto promise to implement the biggest-ever pothole filling programme worth £2 billion as part of the National Infrastructure Strategy.
Even better would be a real recognition of the national importance of a well-maintained local road network and the implementation of new funding measures for the preventative maintenance programmes that would stop potholes from forming in the first place.
In its pre-budget submission to The Treasury, RSTA underlined that the local road network is the UK’s greatest infrastructure asset and is worth some £400 billion. With every road journey starting and ending on a local road, a well-maintained local road network is essential to the national social well-being and economic prosperity. Furthermore, post-Brexit, the government wishes to prove that Britain is ready and open for business. The provision of a well-maintained local road network is fundamental to achieving that objective.
Yet, despite the local road network’s national importance, successive governments have failed to provide the sustained levels of funding necessary for planned programmes of maintenance and investment. The result? A deteriorating road network where according to the latest AIA ALARM Survey one-in-five roads are in such poor structural condition that they need replacing within five years and it would cost £9.79 billion to bring the network up to an acceptable standard.
Mike Harper, RSTA Chief Executive, said: “If the Chancellor wishes to demonstrate that he is really serious about improving the national economy and social well-being, levelling-up the north and proving that, the UK is open for business then he must recognise the national importance of investing in a well-maintained local road network.”
In addition to delivering the £2 billion pothole pledge, Harper called upon the Chancellor to commit to an injection of £1.5 billion a year to address the local road maintenance backlog by investing just 2p a litre from the existing fuel duty, provide an assured funding settlement that enables planned five-year maintenance programmes and address the funding disparity between the strategic road network and the local road network. The strategic road network maintenance receives 53 times more funding per mile than local roads. Yet the vast majority of journeys are undertaken on the local road network.
Harper continued: “Previous ad-hoc additional funding has been welcomed but this does not address the fundamental problem that the local road network needs long-term, consistent investment if programmes of cost-effective, preventative maintenance are to be implemented.
Furthermore, the timing such one-off funding is problematic. For example, making additional funds available in November with requirements that they are spent by March – means that the road works have to be carried out largely at the wrong time of year. Proving the assured long-term funding that allows maintenance at the right time of year, with the right surface treatment, in the right place, would extend the life of existing roads and make road budgets go much further.”