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Pothole cash fails to address 'decades of underfunding'

The £6bn announced by the Government before Christmas to repair local roads will not bridge the overall funding gap, local authorities have warned.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin pledged £1bn will be spent repairing local highways in each of the next six years.

But some councils are already wrestling with huge backlog bills.

In Leeds, up to £100M is needed to complete the work, with Gloucestershire requiring £86M and the London Borough of Islington £79M.

Other councils facing substantial repair bills including: Oldham (£60M); Rochdale (£58M); and Swindon (£40M).

The scale of the problem has emerged following Freedom of Information requests, which were sent to local authorities in England.

Some councils said they had thousands of potholes to repair, including 6,600 in Northumberland, 3,200 in Plymouth, and 1,550 in Derbyshire.

In April, the Asphalt Industry Alliance suggested a one-off investment of £12bn to deal with the backlog in road maintenance, up from £10.5bn in 2013.

Local Government Association transport spokesperson Peter Box said: “While helpful, this new money does not bridge the overall funding gap which is increasing year on year.”

A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “Recent hard winters combined with decades of underfunding have left Leeds with a significant road maintenance backlog of approximately £100M.

“Despite further funding recently being made available to tackle this problem which is welcome, it is not enough to see a dramatic turnaround in road conditions and will still mean we have to prioritise our work in the areas most in need.”

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