£2m awarded for Leeds roads, potholes and flood fixes - but council leader says it's not enough

Pothole on Rakehill Road, Scholes, near Leeds in 2011.
Pothole on Rakehill Road, Scholes, near Leeds in 2011.

The leader of Leeds City Council has warned of a remaining "significant shortfall" in money needed to repair roads and potholes despite the government awarding nearly £2m to the authority.

The council has been given £541,847 towards pothole repairs and flood resilience, with another £1.458m to reward examples of "best practice" - but a campaigner has also said it is still a "drop in the ocean".

Coun Judith Blake.

Coun Judith Blake.

A total of £200m allocated to English councils could resurface more than 1,000 miles of road, the Department for Transport said yesterday.

In order to gain the "best practice" funding, councils have to fill in a questionnaire to show they are taking certain approaches that the government deems most suitable as developed with the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport.

Revealed: How long it takes your council to fix a pothole
Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, today said: “Additional funding from the DfT to support our ongoing work to tackle potholes is always welcome, however, there remains a significant shortfall if the current backlog of highway maintenance work across the city is to be completed.

“There is no quick fix if we are to make significant improvements in the long-term and more consistent national funding is needed to ensure that the demands of the city’s highway maintenance programme continue to be met.”

The DfT is also funding research to develop ways of preventing potholes through new road surface materials or repair techniques such as 3D printing.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Every motorist knows that potholes have been a problem in the last few years.

"That is why the Government is continuing to step up its funding to local authorities to address this.

"It is now up to highways authorities to innovate and use new technologies to solve the problem."

The YEP reported last month how the council received more than 8,000 reports of potholes in 2017-18, making Leeds one of the worst affected areas in Yorkshire.
The figures from Freedom of Information data obtained by Confused.com also revealed that in the same year the council spent £446,806 on pothole repairs and £18,506 on compensation to drivers.

A recent report warned that councils in England and Wales would need to spend nearly £10 billion over a decade to bring all their roads up to scratch.

The study by the Asphalt Industry Alliance found that the number of potholes repaired by local authorities rose by more than a fifth last year, roughly in line with an increase in highway maintenance budgets.

A spokesman from the RAC welcomed the funding and use of technology to prevent potholes forming in the first place.

However he said "investigating techniques like 3D printing should not be a distraction from tackling the real problem, which is one of funding.

"The money being made available to councils is still a drop in the ocean compared to what is really needed."

The RAC called on the Government to consider ring-fencing a proportion of taxes raised from fuel duty as a source of long-term funding.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said: "While innovation will help councils who are fixing a pothole every 17 seconds, funding challenges remain for local authorities to deal with long-term maintenance of their local roads and address a backlog of road repairs which has risen to nearly £10 billion to provide better roads that are safer and more resilient to constant use.

"This is why we have called on the Government to also invest the equivalent of 2p of existing fuel duty to bring our roads up to scratch.

"Long-term funding will help to avoid more costly short-term repairs. The Government needs to address this in the forthcoming Spending Review."