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Road conditions are worst for 23 years says survey

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COUNTY SURVEYORS were this week reluctant to criticise the Government's road maintenance strategy despite the new National Road Maintenance Condition Survey revealing a 3% overall decline in the condition of local roads and bridges.

While the report found the nation's roads were in the worst condition since the survey began 23 years ago, county surveyors this week insisted that road maintenance funding increases in last year's local transport plan settlement meant that local roads were set to improve.

County surveyor for Hampshire John Ekins said: 'We are still suffering from a lagging trend of deterioration in local roads from the mid-90s. We are pleased that the survey shows a slight improvement in the structural condition of principal roads, although visually there has been deterioration.'

He added: 'We want to see a continuation of the upward trend in funding in the last 18 months.'

However, the ICE, which has demonstrated the road maintenance backlog with a series of economic surveys, was more scathing. A spokesman said: 'Maintenance spending hasn't increased in line with official pronouncements and this survey shows the inevitable results.'

Maintenance spending on trunk roads and motorways in England was virtually unchanged in real terms, but within this total there was an increase in structural maintenance and a corresponding decrease in non structural maintenance. A Highways Agency spokesman claimed that it was still on course to reverse the decline in the condition of the trunk road network by 2002.

The report is available from DETR on (020) 7944 3338.

London's principal Road Maintenance Condition Survey identifying how much needs to be spent to repair every principal road in London is expected next month. For more information on the report, which was undertaken by Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council for Government Office for London, call Gordon Prangnell on (020) 8576 5822.

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