Council postpones road improvement plan over soaring costs due to embargo on Russian goods

A Yorkshire council has postponed its summer surface dressing programme on the county’s roads because of soaring bitumen prices due to the embargo on Russian goods.

East Riding Council said they would keep the £2m funding back for next year in the hope prices and supply channels stabilise.

A council report said the embargo on Russian goods has restricted the supply of “some bituminous materials”. It added: “As a consequence, this year’s surface dressing programme has been postponed and a significant amount of officer time has been dedicated to deriving alternative programmes of work that do not rely on embargoed materials.”

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Surface dressing is carried out every year by the council between April and August, as a quick and economical way of repairing, maintaining and extending the life of a road. The work involves spraying hot, sticky bitumen on to the road, spreading chippings on top, and then using a roller to press them in.

The council has postponed its surface dressing programme over the summer due to the soaring cost of bitumenThe council has postponed its surface dressing programme over the summer due to the soaring cost of bitumen
The council has postponed its surface dressing programme over the summer due to the soaring cost of bitumen

The work is carried out in the spring and summer as it requires warmer temperatures for the bitumen and chippings to take effect.

A spokesman for East Riding Council said: “Because of the Ukraine conflict, the binder we use for surface dressing (bitumen) has experienced a significant price increase, beyond inflation, when compared to last year.

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“Because of these soaring prices, and the fact that supply lines could not be guaranteed because of the conflict, the council took the decision to postpone its surface dressing programme this year.

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“The council usually invests around £2m in surface dressing, but this year we would only be able to carry out significantly reduced amount of the surface dressing planned.

“This wasn’t value for money for the council, or for our residents.”

The council says it will be doing patching work this year and will carry out a much more extensive programme of surface dressing next year.

It comes as analysis by the Local Government Association, which is holding its annual conference in Harrogate this week, suggests rising energy prices, spiralling inflation, and National Living Wage pressures will pile an extra £3.6bn onto council budgets in 2024/25.

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The national membership body for local authorities said councils were being forced to rip up financial plans set just three months ago – and there was the potential of funding cuts to local services – such as collecting bins, filling potholes and care for older and disabled people – just to meet their legal duty to balance the books.

The LGA said the sharp spike in inflation and energy prices could not have been predicted when the Government finalised the local government finance settlement earlier this year and councils set their budgets in March.