Warning over threats to local roads

The Audit Commission has warned that the local road network of England is under pressure, outlining various threats to the roads.

England's 236,000 miles of local roads are affected by severe winters, increasing traffic, higher repair costs and decreasing highways funding.

According to the report by the public corporation, a decade ago the cost of maintaining these roads was less than 50% of today's figure.

Over the next three years, the commission said councils will face a 26% drop in government revenue for maintenance and improvement of roads and a 16% cut in capital funding via local transport plans.

The local authorities also face problems due to the damage caused to the roads by utility company street works, with these costing around £50 million every year in repairs.

By 2015, the traffic on these roads is expected to increase by more than 30%.

The report highlighted how councils could collaborate over maintenance and save costs. It also focused on asset management, effective road maintenance, new ways of keeping residents informed, and weighing short-term repairs against long-term resilience.

Michael O'Higgins, the chairman of the Audit Commission, said: "Prevention is better than cure, but councils have to consider the safety and insurance risks of damaged surfaces. Roads costs are rising while councils' belts are tightening. Improvement in A roads seems to have stalled, and the road network overall is starting to deteriorate."

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