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23.12.14

£6bn funding for potholes not enough says LGA

The £6bn of funding for councils to fix potholes announced by the Department for Transport is not enough to “bridge the overall funding gap” according to the Local Government Association, which says “there is still a very long way to go to bring the nation’s roads up to scratch”.

The transport secretary announced that £6bn will be spent tackling potholes and improving local roads in England between 2015 and 2021, spending that amounts to £976m a year.

Patrick McLoughlin says it is enough to fix 18 million potholes across the country.

He said: “Roads play a significant part in everyday life. Poorly maintained local roads, blighted by potholes, are a menace to all road users, particularly during the festive period as people travel to see family and friends.

“The £6bn funding I am announcing today will put an end to short term fixes and will mean we have committed £10bn between 2010 and 2021.”

Of this £6bn, £4.7bn will be allocated according to a needs-based formula between 115 councils, with £580m to incentivise good asset management and efficiencies and £575m reserved to a challenge fund for large one-off maintenance and renewal projects.

Details of funding allocations are available as an interactive map.

However the LGA have said that the money the government is offering is only half what is needed to fix Britain’s roads. Their research has shown that the one-off cost of repairing all roads would be £12bn, up from £10.5bn in 2010.

An LGA spokesman said: "Previous LGA analysis of the £6bn funding over five years found it equated to an extra £300m a year on top of the £700m councils were expecting, but was still £800m short of what was needed to repair the poor quality of roads in one year alone. So while helpful, this new money does not bridge the overall funding gap which is increasing year on year.”

The spokesman was also critical that £1bn of the funding will be “tied up in Whitehall bureaucracy” and called for the entire amount to be put into the hands of councils. 

He added: "Recent harsh winters and decades of underfunding by successive governments have created a national backlog of road repairs that would take £12bn and a decade for councils to fix.

"The government can tackle this ever-growing national repair bill by injecting an extra £1bn a year into roads maintenance, funded by investing 2p a litre from existing fuel duty. The vast majority of people agree that a small amount of the billions they pay the Treasury each year at the pumps in fuel duty should be reinvested in local areas to bring our decaying roads up to scratch."

The Institution of Civil Engineers said the money would be a "welcome boost".

But a spokesman added: "Given the one-time road maintenance 'catch up' cost has been estimated at £12bn this year, a significant gap will remain in local authority revenue budgets."

(Image: c. Danny Lawson and PA Wire)

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