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Government allocates £1.2bn roads funding, but councils say more needed

Councils have welcomed the government’s allocation of £1.2bn of funding for them to spend on upgrading streets in 2017-18, but warned that “substantially more” is needed to bring the country’s road network up to scratch.

Today the government published information on how councils should spend the £1.2bn funding with the aim of improving the country’s roads and cutting traffic congestion.

The funding, including money from the new National Productivity Investment Fund which was announced in last November’s Autumn Statement and the Pothole Action Fund, also includes £75m of grants open for council bidding designated for improving infrastructure such as bridges and street lighting.

The transport minister Andrew Jones tied the funding into the country’s overall economic plan, saying: “Roads play a significant part in everyday life linking people with jobs and businesses with customers, which is why this government is investing record amounts improving and maintaining highways across the country to help motorists.”

“The funding we have allocated today is focused on relieving congestion and providing important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future - helping to build an economy that works for everyone.”

From the £1.2bn funding for 2017-18, £1bn will be allocated to local highway authorities in England outside of London to improve the condition of highways with an emphasis on smaller local roads.

A further £70m will be set aside for repairing potholes and £75m for a Highways Maintenance Incentive Element intended to reward councils who demonstrate the “value” of their roads.

Cllr Martin Tett, transport spokesman at the LGA, said that the certainty of the funding will help councils but more is needed, explaining that the £1.2bn would still take councils over a decade to clear their £12bn backlog of road repairs due to significant budget reductions.

“Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority,” Cllr Tett said. “This means the government providing long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade."

In an attempt to reduce the number of potholes, the DfT announced that it would begin trialling an innovative “pothole-spotter” system in partnership with Thurrock and York councils.

The “spotter” system, comprising of HD cameras and intelligent software, will be mounted to refuge collection vehicles to identify road surface problems at risk of becoming potholes.

The DfT also announced its support for a new motorway junction on the M11 near Harlow in Essex. The government hopes that the development will deliver 15,000 homes to build on its aim of building 200,000 new affordable homes under its £7bn affordable homes fund.

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