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Pothole high prompts call for £1bn repair fund

Rac pothole

A three-year high in pothole-related vehicle breakdowns has led to renewed calls for billions of pounds in funding for local roads.

The RAC’s quarterly Pothole Index shows that between April and June this year, 4,091 callouts were for breakdowns which had occurred because of potholes – the highest second quarter since 2015.

As a result the RAC has joined the Local Government Association (LGA) in urging government to cream off 2p per litre of existing fuel duty for local road maintenance, which the LGA estimates would generate roughly £1bn each year.

“Councils have been working hard to fix potholes and general road surface degradation, but despite further emergency funding from central government, their budgets are even more stretched than in previous years. Our figures demonstrate they are not winning the battle and as a result the safety of too many drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists is being put at risk,” said RAC chief engineer David Bizley.

“Central government must now consider how we can develop a long-term plan to improve the condition of our local roads.”

Experts have warned potholes could hold back the development of autonomous vehicles, as unclear road markings and poor conditions could confuse driverless cars.

In March transport secretary Chris Grayling announced a £100M pothole repair fund for local councils to tackle increasing numbers of potholes. The LGA estimates there is a £9bn backlog for road repairs.

LGA transport spokesperson Martin Tett said councils are “fixing a pothole every 21 seconds”.

Tett added: “However, only long-term, consistent and fairer government investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed.

“The Government is spending 52 times more on maintaining our national roads than our local roads when very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road. This will only serve to speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads.”

A spokesperson for Treasury said: “We know the importance of investing in our roads, which is why we spend £1bn every year on local road maintenance, a further £296M over five years on the Pothole Action Fund, and a £15bn commitment to the Strategic Road Network in the first Roads Investment Strategy.”

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