Chancellor Alistair Darling’s decision to allocate an extra £100M to repair roads blighted by potholes is insufficient, local authorities and roads campaigners said this week.
Opinions have differed as to the true scale of the problem. The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey, published this week, says that fixing damage caused by winter weather will cost £400M.
Surrey County Council leader Andrew Povey said pothole repair will require at least £200M in Surrey alone. “All it really amounts to is papering over the cracks in our roads,” he said.
RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister said it will take billions rather than millions tobring the road network up to standard, while ICE director general Tom Foulkes said the shortfall in road maintenance budgets is reaching £1bn. “An extra £100M investment unfortunately will have little impact,” he said.
“Some local authorities have far more potholes than others. The question is, why?”
Transport minister Sadiq Khan
Meanwhile, Road Surface Treatments Association chief executive Howard Robinson upped the cost of repairs to £10bn. Government sources spoke out to reject the criticisms.
A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said £100M is the amount asked for by the Local Government Association and transport minister Sadiq Khan said road repairs might not have been so costly.
“Some local authorities have far more potholes than others,” he said. “The question is, why? Good local authorities who maintain their roads will be less likely to have potholes.”
The allocation of any government funds was significant - in January, transport minister Chris Mole told delegates at NCE’s Road Summit that there would be no more money made available for potholes.
CECA national director Rosemary Beales said the £100M is good news for contractors experiencing a lack of “shovel-ready” work.