Comment

02.07.18

Potholes: The scourge of the roads

Source: PSE June/July 2018

Potholes are a scourge on our roads and can have much farther-reaching consequences than one might think. Re-routing just a small amount of existing fuel duty payments into local roads would go a long way to fixing the problem, writes Cllr Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and chairman of the LGA Environment, Economy, Housing and Transport Board.

As leader of a county council, I am acutely aware that potholes and the condition of our local roads are one of the public’s main local concerns. Every politician in the country cares about potholes. From cabinet ministers to parish councillors, everyone who stands for election will have been told by constituents about potholes on their road. It is one of the most visible and obvious problems that we are asked to deal with. Despite the fact that potholes are an unending battle, councils do a lot and, with the help of government, we could do more.

Potholes have a huge impact on our society above and beyond making our road surface uneven. Untreated potholes will continue to grow and will break up road surfaces. This in turn damages vehicles, as well as leading to slower journey times. This can result on lost productivity for the economy as a whole. There is also a direct cost to councils, who had to spend £28.3m on dealing with pothole compensation last year, which they would prefer to spend on repairing roads.

Councils fixed over 1.5 million potholes last year – that’s a pothole every 20 seconds, despite significant budget reductions. Local authorities are proving remarkably efficient in how we use our diminishing funding pot, but we remain trapped in a frustrating cycle that will only ever leave us able to patch up those roads that are inadequate. According to recent research from the Asphalt Industry Alliance, it would take 14 years to clear the repair backlog in England and Wales and 78 years to resurface our entire road network.

We urgently need to boost the amount that is invested in our local road networks. The government plans to spend £1.1m per mile to maintain its strategic road network between 2015 and 2020. In comparison, it will provide councils with just £21,000 per mile for the local roads they maintain over the same period. This is despite an increase in the number of cars travelling on local roads, average speeds falling and local roads making up 97% of the country’s road network.

Potholes cost an average of £75 each to repair, so you can see how thinly spread council money has become.

The LGA is calling for the government to treat local roads on a par with the Strategic Roads Network (motorways and major trunk roads as run by Highways England), which have funding certainty guaranteed over a five-year period. By investing just 2p of existing fuel duty payments into local roads, we can clear the £9bn backlog of repairs. Our polling shows that 83% of the population would support a small amount of the existing billions they pay the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.

Virtually every journey on the Strategic Roads Network starts and ends on local roads – it makes little economic sense that the investment we make in local and national roads is so starkly different. If the benefits of improvements to the strategic network simply means getting onto a potholed local network quicker, then the anticipated benefits of the government’s investment will be lost.

Everyone can see the road surface outside their home and will likely travel on a cracked or potholed road as part of their daily commute. The obvious nature of the problem is why the public constantly bring the problem up with politicians.

However, it also means that when we fix the road surface the public can see that local government is dealing with their problems and making their street a better place to live and use. It sends out a clear signal to local people that we care about them and their daily lives and we haven’t forgotten the little things. That’s why it’s so vital we work to help combat the scourge of potholes.

 

Enjoying PSE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Looking ahead with South Tyneside Council

15/11/2019Looking ahead with South Tyneside Council

South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm spoke with Emily Rodgers for the new PSE podcast about the council’s green agenda and plans for ... more >
Decarbonisation of the Northern Powerhouse

15/11/2019Decarbonisation of the Northern Powerhouse

- PRESS RELEASE -   Covering a growing population of 15.3 million, home to over a million businesses and with an economy totalling £... more >
Doncaster Council approves plans for large-scale airport development

14/11/2019Doncaster Council approves plans for large-scale airport development

  Doncaster Council has approved plans for a major advanced manufacturing and logistics development located at Doncaster Sheffield airp... more >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the role of data. Data is all around us in the modern age. Unseen, the digital environment plays a role in near on every aspect of our lives. It influences, manages and mit... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been th... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

public sector focus

Looking ahead with South Tyneside Council

15/11/2019Looking ahead with South Tyneside Council

South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm sp... more >
How the South Tyneside Council leader kept his community centres open

14/11/2019How the South Tyneside Council leader kept his community centres open

South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm sp... more >