Councils warn of ‘tipping point’ year for potholes

Councils have warned they face a ‘tipping point’ in their efforts to maintain local roads, as the repair bill for potholes is estimated to reach £14bn.

According to statistics from the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s (AIA) annual ALARM survey, the total cost of repairing potholes has risen from £9.8bn in 2012 to £11.8bn in 2014 and is set to reach £14bn by 2019.

The LGA warned that this sum is more than three times higher than the £4.4bn total councils spend on highways and transport.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesperson, said: “This year could be a tipping point year regarding potholes and councils, who have experienced significant budget reductions, now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14bn to bring the nation’s roads up to scratch.

“It is wrong and unfair that the government allocates almost 40 times more to maintaining national roads, which it controls, compared with local roads, which are overseen by councils. It is paramount this funding discrepancy is swiftly plugged.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) spends £1.1m per mile on national roads, compared to £27,000 per mile on local roads, noted the LGA. To address this, the Association called on the government to channel 2p per litre of fuel duty towards local roads, generating £1bn a year.

Last year, the government announced that councils will receive £10m a year from a new pothole repair fund, but the LGA warned that this wasn’t enough to tackle the backlog of repairs, which would require at least £69m from each local authority to fix. In addition, the average pothole repair time has increased from an estimated 10.9 years in 2006 to 14 years in 2016.

The latest edition of PSE features an article by Cllr Tett on what actions councils can take to tackle the pothole backlog.

A DfT spokesperson said the government was giving councils "a record £6n" for road repairs over five years.

(Image c. Danny Lawson from PA Wire)

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