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Changes to pothole repair funding urged

The Asphalt Industries Alliance has called on the government for increased and longer term funding for roads maintenance following the release of its annual roads maintenance survey, which revealed that the number of potholes filled in England and Wales last year rose by 29%.

The cost of filling the estimated 2.2M potholes came to £113M, but an additional £32M was paid out in compensation claims and the cost of staff time spent on claims amounted to over £13M, according to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey, which is completed by local authority highway services across England and Wales.

The amount paid out by councils in compensation claims by road users for damage or injury due to poor road condition rose by 50% on the previous year.

The AIA said that while the cost of filling potholes is not increasing significantly overall, local authorities estimate that £10.5bn would be needed to bring their roads back into reasonable condition.

“Emergency funding from government is welcome, but a little extra here and there makes very little difference,” said AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie. “The additional £215M announced in the autumn to help improve local road condition over the next couple of years doesn’t even cover the £338M of damage repair needed as a result of last year’s rainfall.”

A new poll by motorists organisation The AA found that a third of its members rated the overall surface condition of their local roads as poor, very poor or terrible. Only 10% rated them very good or excellent.

Local roads in Scotland and Yorkshire and Humberside fared worst with more than 40% reporting condition as poor, very poor or terrible.

Drivers in Northern Ireland, Wales and London reported roads to be in best condition. But, even there, more than 50% of respondents only rated them as fair.

When asked whether local road condition was better or worse than a year ago, 50% of all respondents said condition was worse with 14% saying much worse.

Only 9% said road condition was better than a year ago and 40% said condition was about the same. In the North East, 59% of respondents said conditions were worse whilst those saying the roads had improved were greatest in Wales (13%) and London (12%).

The survey also found that one third of respondents had suffered potholes damage over the last two years. AA members in Scotland were most likely to report pothole damage with 44% of respondents saying their cars had suffered damage.

Spending on road maintenance by the Highways Agency has fallen by £560M since 2009/10 and by £301M by local highway authorities. 

In the Autumn Statement 2012 the Chancellor allocated an extra £140M of ring-fenced funding to English highways authorities for highway repairs in 2013/14.



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