Long-term funding critical to thwarting pothole menace

Long-term funding critical to thwarting pothole menace
Further poor weather could see the UK’s pothole situation worsen in the coming months, after RAC data uncovered an increase in pothole-related breakdowns.

RAC patrols attended around 11% more callouts attributed to potholes in the final three months of 2017 than it did the year before – and road surfaces may well deteriorate further by spring in the wet and cold.

The concerning figures suggest the country has “gone backwards” in terms of pothole progress, prompting the RAC to call for “ring-fenced, long-term funding” for local authorities to improve the situation.

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The latest figures from the RAC’s Pothole Index come as Local Government Association (LGA) analysis suggests motorways and major trunk roads in England get 52 times more government funding per mile than local roads maintained by councils.

The LGA says the Government plans to spend £1.1 million per mile to maintain its strategic road network between 2015 and 2020, but will offer just £21,000 per mile for local roads over the same period.

In total, the RAC’s index shows 2,830 individual members – up from 2,547 in 2016 – suffered a vehicle breakdown likely attributable to poor roads surfaces, including broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers or distorted wheels.

Across all quarters of 2017 in fact, the number of ‘pothole’ faults was up on the year before it, the RAC says.

In addition, the final period of last year saw the highest ever proportion of breakdowns likely to have been caused by inadequate road surfaces – at 1.2% of all callouts. This figure stood at 0.8% in 2015.

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The RAC’s chief engineer David Bizley says the latest numbers are likely to be met with concern by drivers.

“After several years in which the surface quality of our roads appeared to be improving, the latest analysis of RAC breakdown data suggests that for the third successive quarter we have gone backwards,” he said.

“The higher rainfall in the last quarter compared to 2016 and the snowy and icy conditions that much of the country experienced into December are likely to be significant factors.”

Mr Bizley mentioned funding laid out in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget for fixing potholes, but says road surfaces remain at risk of weather-led deterioration.

“Put simply, potholes are a menace for drivers and indeed for all road users,” he added. “We want to see local authorities given the certainty of ring-fenced, long-term funding from central government sufficient to enable local authorities to bring all of the UK’s roads up to a standard that is fit-for purpose.

“Drivers contribute around £40bn of motoring based taxation a year and many will feel that they are having to endure roads that are substandard and therefore getting poor value for money.”

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.