Road repair bill 'rises to £12bn'

Road repair bill 'rises to £12bn'

The cost of returning the local road network in England and Wales to a reasonable condition has rocketed to £12 billion, according to the latest figures.

In the last 12 months, £1.5 billion has been added to the repair bill, it is believed, despite more than two million potholes being filled in.

Figures from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) show that the cost to councils for restoring roads to a reasonable condition has risen by 30% since last year, to average £90 million per local authority in England.

This is despite the shortfall in annual road maintenance budgets dropping by 20% from £6.2 million to £5.1 million per council in England.

Over the past year, the number of compensation claims for personal injury or vehicle damage has risen by 20% to average 540 for each council in England, with the exception of London, according to the AIA.

RAC technical director David Bizley said: "It's no great surprise that the figure to get our roads in order has gone up. If you don't resurface roads properly at regular intervals and reconstruct them when they reach the end of their design lives you end up with roads riddled with potholes, endangering lives and costing motorists millions in vehicle repairs. Patching, while necessary for safety reasons, is nothing more than a short-term solution that will ultimately cost the taxpayer more money.

"It's extremely worrying there is such a large disparity between the Asphalt Industry Alliance's £12bn estimate to bring roads up to standard in one fell swoop and the average amount of just under £1 billion the Department for Transport plans to spend on local road maintenance in England, outside of London, until 2021.

"We find ourselves in this position despite the Government giving £3 billion to local authorities in England, outside London, from 2011 to 2015 for highways maintenance. More recently, £140 million was made available to repair weather-damaged roads and an extra £200 million pothole fund was announced in the Budget.

"In isolation, these additional pots of funding appear large, but in reality each is less than 2% of the money required to make our roads fit for purpose, especially when you consider that some roads have actually reached the end of their design lives. In these cases no amount of resurfacing or pothole repairs will make a difference as the real faults lie well below the surface in the construction of the road itself.

"The question on every motorist's lips must surely be: are the authorities using this money as effectively as they can to avoid future problems? What we need is long-term, financially prudent resurfacing and road reconstruction, not short-term costly, desperate patching."

Copyright Press Association 2014