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Road repair budgets back in spotlight as Highways England releases unspent funds

Potholes 2

Fixing potholes, reducing congestion and lowering emissions have long been the three main scourges for those tasked with improving the UK’s roads.

And for as long as most would care to remember, a lack of funding and resources has been blamed for poor results. Now, that tide seems to be turning.

In the past few weeks the government has launched a £200M fund specifically for road maintenance and pothole repairs. And in London an innovation

consortium of nine wide ranging organisations has been established to combat issues arising from roadworks.

Meanwhile Highways England has announced that it is to ramp up spending to tackle air pollution, with £92.3M of a £100M pot of money still to be used up.

During the last four years, Highways England has spent just £7.7M of the fund which was set up in 2015 to improve air quality near main roads.

But the roads operator now plans to ramp up spending, releasing an additional £67.3M in the next 12 months and the remaining £25M the following year.

ClientEarth criticised this, claiming that Highways England was “sitting on money”.

Highways England has hit back saying that over the last three years spending had been on relatively low cost research and investigation work.

Away from the Highways England’s network, an enormous disparity in UK road funding has been highlighted, in the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s (AIA) Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey.

Some local authorities spend just £3,000 per mile to maintain their road network, but others can spend as much as £118,000 per mile.

The ALARM report does not name the local authorities specifically, but it does reveal that a funding gap exists across England and Wales. The authority with the lowest road maintenance budget is identified as being in Wales, spending £3,000 per mile.

The local authority with the biggest funding pot is in the North West, with £118,000 per mile to spend.

So while there is money to be spent, it would appear that not everyone is getting their fair share of the pot. 

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