Six billion pounds to tackle potholes

Six billion pounds to tackle potholes

The Government has announced a fund worth almost £6 billion to repair potholes on England's roads over the next six years.

Local authorities will start receiving the funding from next year to tackle the blight of potholes created by heavy flooding earlier this year and successive winter cold snaps of recent times.

Some 18 million potholes will be repaired with the money, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said, with 115 English councils sharing a total package worth £4.7 billion.

Local councils will also be able to put forward proposals for a slice of a further £575 million in funding for the repair and upkeep of junctions, bridges and street lighting.

But does the move do enough to appease long- beleaguered motorists?

RAC chief engineer David Bizley says: "Any funding to support the repair of potholes that blight motoring in the UK has to be welcome, particularly if this is "new money" and therefore in addition to funding already announced, though we have doubts as to whether this is the case.

"But we question whether this really goes far enough. Recent estimates by the Asphalt Industry Alliance suggest a one-off investment of £12bn is needed in England to deal with the backlog in road maintenance, the majority of which is associated with those roads for which local authorities are responsible. Even taking into account existing investment by Government since 2010, the associated £10bn is spread over a 10 year period and is still a long way short of what is required to return local roads to a state that is fit for purpose.

"The Government deserves credit for their bold actions to develop and fund an investment strategy for the strategic road network. But unless equally bold actions are taken on local roads, we risk a two tier network with strategic roads capable of supporting economic growth but with a crumbling local road infrastructure that stops us realising the benefits of the investment in the strategic network.

"With an election less than six months away, we would hope the next administration recognises the importance of local roads and steps up investment in line with the estimated £12bn necessary to fix the problem once and for all and break out of the "patch and mend" culture that has characterised the approach that many cash-strapped local authorities have been forced to adopt."

A total of £578 million has been earmarked for a 2016 incentive fund scheme which will be handed to councils which deliver cost-effective improvements, Mr McLoughlin said.

As part of the announcement, he stressed that roads play a significant part in everyday life, describing ruined local roads as a "menace" to all motorists.

He said it is vital for roads to be in good quality, saying the £6 billion funding package will ensure a long-term fix for damaged roads and will put in place a "transport network fit for the 21st century".

Including this funding, Mr McLoughlin said overall the Government will have committed £10 billion on local road maintenance in the decade to 2021.

Copyright Press Association 2014