Some roads may be closed altogether

Some roads may be closed altogether

British motorists thwarted by "road closed" signs during the recent extreme weather may find them becoming a permanent fixture on some routes, a local government leader has warned.

This is because "underfunded" local authorities have been left struggling to maintain roads, including Cornwall, which says it may be forced to stop maintenance of rural routes altogether.

Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said: "Unless something changes we risk seeing large swathes of Britain's road network dangerously strewn with potholes and becoming so unsafe that they will need to be shut completely."

But the Department for Transport (DfT) claims billions of pounds are being given for local highways maintenance. It is the councils' responsibility to deal with extreme weather, the DfT said.

Mr Box said that local authorities are working "flat out" to repair the damage caused by extreme flooding.

He added: "Decades of underfunding from successive governments and severe weather has taken its toll É the state of our roads is only going to get worse as councils struggle to keep up with a growing £10.5 billion repair backlog."

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "We should not be playing verbal ping-pong between local and central government over an issue as important as this as the money simply must be found for these essential repairs.

"The damage to road surfaces we are seeing now is perhaps only the tip of the iceberg. More and more potholes will inevitably emerge in the next few months with the combination of water ingress, freezing conditions causing cracking through expansion and existing defects being made worse as vehicles drive over them."

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