£13bn may be needed for potholes repair bill

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It would cost more than £5bn to repair the potholes on England’s roads as councils struggle to make repairs because of cuts to their budgets, Labour claims.

A survey of 152 local authorities found that 40 per cent had a backlog totalling £5.36bn, while 92 per cent of the 111 which responded to the questionnaire don’t currently have the money to fix the roads in their area.

Labour estimate that if the £5.36bn bill is reflected across England, the total cost could come to £13.4bn.

It found 17 local authorities reported individual backlogs of more than £100m, with three county councils – North Yorkshire, Kent and Devon – having backlogs in excess of £400m.

Nearly three-quarters of the councils which responded were cutting their road maintenance budgets in real terms, the survey found.

Shadow Roads Minister John Woodcock said: “Potholes frustrate road users more than anything and it’s clear that the Tory-led government has no serious long-term plan to get our roads back into shape.

“These new figures reveal the worsening state of England’s roads as a result of the Government’s cuts – potholes have become a £13bn problem under the Tories.

“Motorists and cyclists are already furious that ministers have pretended to give councils extra money to repair potholes when all they’ve done is replace a fraction of the £432m they had axed from road maintenance budgets.

“Instead of continually patching up knackered road surfaces with a bucket of tar we need a proper strategic plan for local roads which could save taxpayers’ money a fortune in the long-term.”

Responding to the claims, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: “This Government understands what a problem potholes on our roads can be, that’s why we are making available £3.2bn over the next four years for road maintenance and we found an extra £200m for councils to tackle the consequences of the extreme cold weather last winter.”