Potholes bill on track to hit £14bn

A pothole, yesterday.
A pothole, yesterday.
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Councils have warned that 2017 could be a “tipping point” for tackling potholes as the backlog of repairs continues to grow.

The bill for repairing roads in England and Wales could reach £14b within two years according to analysis for the Local Government Association.

This is several times more than councils’ entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport, which was £4.4 billion in England during 2016.

Statistics from the Asphalt Industry Alliance show the amount needed to repair roads rose from £9.8 billion in 2012 to £11.8 billion last year.

To reverse this trend the LGA has called for the Government to inject a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance funded from two pence per litre of existing fuel duty.

Yorkshire councils have complained about the pothole backlog they face with North Yorkshire County Council suggesting it would need more than £300m to bring its network up to scratch.

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett said: “This year could be a tipping point year regarding potholes and councils, who have experienced significant budget reductions, now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14 billion to bring the nation’s roads up to scratch.

“Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The Government’s own traffic projections predict a potential increase in local traffic of up to 55 per cent by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade.

“Motorists pay billions to the Treasury each year in fuel duty when they fill up their car at the pumps only to then have to drive on roads that are decaying after decades of underfunding. They deserve roads fit for the 21st century.”

Liberal Democrat transport spokeswoman Baroness Jenny Randerson said: “If more had been spent initially then this wouldn’t be such a problem and is a false economy, putting a plaster over a gaping wound. The £12m paid out so far has proved woefully inadequate.

“Roads have memory, therefore these potholes will always reappear without serious commitment to sufficient work.”

The Department for Transport has committed £6 billion for English councils to improve local roads over the current Parliament, in addition to a £50 million-a-year fund specifically for tackling potholes.