RAC urges Government to pump more into local road repairs

RAC urges Government to pump more into local road repairs
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) receipts should go towards fixing local roads as well as funding motorway and major highway repairs, the RAC says.

The organisation has urged the government to come up with a long-term plan to improve the condition of all UK roads, after the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey warned that 24,400 miles of essential road maintenance is needed in the next year.

Last July, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that a share of the annual National Road Fund, funded by VED, would be given to local authorities to improve A-roads.

READ MORE: The RAC Guide to the Great British Pothole and Other Road Surface Defects

However, the RAC has advised the DfT must now ring-fence further funding for smaller local roads, claiming this could raise enough money to “make proper, lasting repairs”.

The survey – which was produced by the Asphalt Industry Alliance – also found that local authorities face an average £3.3 million shortfall between the money they receive and the amount needed for repairs.

Because of this, even with the required funding it will take an estimated 14 years just to get roads back to a ‘reasonable steady state’.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “This latest report clearly highlights that the shortfall between what councils need to fix the roads, and the cash they actually have at their disposal, is as enormous as ever.

“In just two years’ time, motorways and major roads will enjoy ring-fenced funding from Vehicle Excise Duty receipts. If just a fraction of existing fuel duty revenue was ring-fenced specifically for local roads, over just a few years enough could be raised to allow councils to make proper, lasting repairs that are fit for the 21st century.

“As things stand, all road users are faced with the prospect of road surfaces falling into an even worse state making for increasingly uncomfortable, expensive and, in some cases, downright dangerous journeys.”

Mr Lyes added the current measures do not go far enough and urged the Government to tackle the problem before damaged roads – made worse by the recent spells of snow and frozen rain – become unusable.

He said: “It’s time for some fresh thinking when it comes to finally getting on top of Britain’s pothole problem. Short term funding and creating pots by which local authorities can bid for cash doesn’t appear to be addressing the root cause of the problem.”

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Instead, the Government should be looking at how it can guarantee councils the certainty of reliable long-term funding so that they can finally bring every road up to a standard road users think is acceptable.

“The recent bad weather will only have made matters worse. Before the cold snap, the condition of many local roads was on a knife edge and we now expect a number of these to deteriorate still further as we move into the Spring,” Mr Lyes added.

The survey also found that a one-off sum of £9.31 billion would be needed to get roads back into a reasonable condition, with £72.3 million going to each local authority in England, £14.6 million going to London and £27.4 million to Wales.

Rick Green, Chairman of the AIA, said: “We accept that there is no magic wand to wave, nor is there a bottomless pot of money to tap into. There are difficult choices to be made at both local and national level but the government needs to provide adequate funding for a well maintained and safe local road network if it wants to support communities and drive economic growth.”

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