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Extra £140m to help councils repair ‘most damaged’ roads

Crisis funding to help councils deal with potholes and damaged roads following this winter’s extreme weather will be distributed “by the end of this week”, the government says.

The new money is being allocated on condition that local authorities publish information on their websites by the end of August 2014 showing where the money has been spent.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has revealed that as part of the government’s response to the issue, local council funding to fix the ‘most damaged’ roads has been increased by £36.5m to £80m.

Additionally, following the severe weather of recent months, an extra £103.5m is also being made available to all councils across England.

According to the Department for Transport, this is in addition to almost £900m already made available for road maintenance this year, bringing total government investment allocated to road maintenance to more than £1bn in 2013 to 2014.

McLoughlin said: “Having the right infrastructure in place to support businesses and hardworking people is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan. This extra money will help make a real difference to the millions of road users and local residents who rely on local roads, giving them safer and smoother journeys.”

He added that councils have a responsibility to maintain their roads properly, but the exceptional weather has caused significant additional damage, increasing the amount of damage to the local road network.

McLoughlin said: “This additional money will be allocated on a formula basis, and will be distributed to the majority of councils in England by the end of this week, to ensure that they can make use of it as soon as possible and complete works before the summer holidays.”

Responding to the announcement of the £140m fund, Cllr Mike Jones, chair of the Local Government Association’s Environment and Housing Board, stated that councils have expressed serious concerns about the impact this winter’s extreme weather has had on the roads throughout the country. Therefore, it is good news for residents that government has listened and responded to the calls from councils for more money to repair flood-hit roads.

“We do not yet know what the full bill for the cost of this winter’s devastating floods will be, but we expect it to be more than £140m. Nevertheless, we are pleased the government has recognised the need to provide funding for these extensive and costly repairs,” he said.

Jones added that councils already face a substantial £10.5bn shortfall to bring the country’s roads up to scratch and this has been exacerbated by adverse weather, which seems to be becoming increasingly common. He has suggested that “there is an even greater need for increased and consistent funding over a number of years for the road network to recover, such as investing in widespread resurfacing projects”.

The Campaign for Better Transport tweeted: “Gov finds some extra money to tackle potholes...need more money for this & less for unnecessary new roads.”

Speaking to PSE, Stephen Joseph, the campaigns chief executive, said: "There was already a £10bn road maintenance backlog before the recent winter storms, so the £140m repair fund for councils announced yesterday is a drop in the ocean.

“Compare that figure to the £28bn earmarked for new roads and it is clear the government has got its priorities wrong. The government needs to adopt a 'fix it first' mentality and allocate more money to local road repair and less to big new trunk roads."

Surveys suggest that the worsening condition of the roads is the public’s number one concern in terms of the impact of council cuts. PSE reported last autumn on an ICM poll showing that while people generally think the quality of public services has been maintained or improved in the past five years despite austerity measures, 66% think road maintenance has got worse.

(Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

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