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Local roads near ‘breaking point’ as pothole repairs reach eight-year high

19 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Pothole in road

The rate of pothole repairs on local roads has reached an eight-year high, according to a new report.

This shows highways are heading towards “breaking point”, according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), which carried out the research.

The annual Alarm survey found that local authorities in England and Wales expect to fix 2.0 million potholes in the current financial year.

That is up 43% compared with 1.4 million during the previous 12 months, and is the highest annual total since 2015/16 when 2.2 million potholes were filled in.

Maintenance

The AIA report said: “This indicates that local authorities, who have a statutory responsibility to keep local roads safe, don’t have the funds to do so in a cost-effective, proactive way, which would allow them to carry out the appropriate maintenance interventions at the right time.”

Just 47% of local road miles were rated as being in a good condition, with 36% adequate and 17% poor.

The survey found that average highway maintenance budgets increased by 2.3% in the 2023/24 financial year compared with the previous 12 months.

But the impact of rising costs due to inflation meant local authorities “effectively experienced a real-terms cut”, the report warned.

Meanwhile, the amount needed to fix the backlog of local road repairs has reached a record £16.3 billion, up 16% from £14.0 billion a year ago.

AIA chairman Rick Green said: “Local authorities have a bit more money to spend this year but the impact of rising costs due to inflation means they have actually been able to do less with it.

“Couple this with the effects of the extreme weather we are increasingly facing, and the result is that the rate at which local roads are suffering is accelerating towards breaking point.”

The survey found that an estimated 2.0 million potholes will be filled by councils in the 2023/24 financial year, up from 1.4 million during the previous 12 months.

This is the most since 2015/16.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with Darlington Council leader Jonathan Dulston (far left), Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen (far right) and Darlington MP Peter Gibson (second from left) in Firth Moor looking at a pothole. Photo Stefan Rousseau PA Images

In October 2023, the UK Government announced it would provide £8.3 billion of extra funding over 11 years to fix potholes in England.

This was part of the Network North strategy to use money saved by scrapping the planned extension of HS2 north of Birmingham.

Mr Green said: “There’s still a mountain to climb when it comes to fixing our local roads.

“While it’s great that English local authorities should be getting more money from the Government through its Network North funding, it’s clearly not going to be enough to halt the decline.”

Local Government Association transport spokesman Darren Rodwell said: “This report reveals in stark terms the huge challenge facing councils in maintaining the local roads network, which nearly everyone relies on.

“The backlog of repairs now stands at almost double the extra amount that Government has promised over the next 11 years.”

Data

AA president Edmund King said: “Our breakdown data shows that 2023 was the worst year for potholes for five years.

“Arguably the road network is a local council’s biggest asset, but not enough planned investment and repairs are being made to make streets safer and smoother for drivers and those on two wheels.”

Nicholas Lyes, director of policy and standards at charity IAM RoadSmart, said: “The AIA’s report lays bare the crumbling state of our road network as well as the effort and money now required to fix it.

“Notwithstanding the financial headache pothole-related damage does to the vehicle’s owner, our crater-laden roads are posing a serious road safety hazard.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We’re taking decisive action to resurface roads and fix potholes by investing an extra £8.3 billion of reallocated HS2 funding, the biggest ever funding increase for local road improvements and enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads across the country.

“In addition, we have made £150 million available for local authorities right now meaning funding for most authorities has increased by almost a third compared to last year, with a further £150 million to follow in the coming financial year.”


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Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
22 days ago

Anything to do with oh so heavy electric cars?

Tim Edwards
Tim Edwards
22 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Granted electric cars are heavier and do impact on roads but heavy goods vehicles are considerably heavier and polluting and over the years we have seen increasing numbers of them on the roads. The impact of extreme weather conditions also negatively impacts on our roads which is why vehicle emissions are taxed. As our emissions continue to climb our roads will worsen. Frankly, we have seen nothing yet. Most of our current road and rail infrastructure is not designed for the record-breaking weather of the future.

TJ
TJ
22 days ago

Cars have to be tested every year so they are fir for the roads.. but the roads are not fit for cars.
Despite all the money it costs us..
Two taxes on every litre of fuel.
Road tax
and the M.O.T.

Tim Edwards
Tim Edwards
22 days ago
Reply to  TJ

There is no road tax but a vehicle tax based on fuel type and CO2 emissions. As global overheating continues we are seeing increased extreme weather which will impact on the integrity of roads. Rain and flooding in particular will see all our roads deteriorate faster.

TJ
TJ
21 days ago
Reply to  Tim Edwards

ok if you believe the climate con.

TJ
TJ
21 days ago
Reply to  Tim Edwards

We were told years ago that the ice caps melting , the Maldives would be under water, well we are still waiting.

hdavies15
hdavies15
21 days ago
Reply to  TJ

Don’t talk or write so daft. I do not subscribe to the doomsday version of the climate/green gospels but extreme weather may be on the rise due to the natural fluctuations linked to cyclical movements of several factors that influence events. TE is correct to assert that if these trends continue there will be an accelerated deterioration. Deriding it all as climate con is aiming your derision at the wrong target.

TJ
TJ
21 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Many people have got extremely wealthy with the climate scam.

TJ
TJ
21 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Let me ask you this ..
do you believe in chemtrails,?

Gareth
Gareth
21 days ago

This report needs to be clarified, as I have just read the report, on another web site,and only the headline mentions” Wales”. The rest of the report goes on to say that the UK Gov recognise the problems in England,and they are giving councils in England extra money, plus there is the Network North funding for north England. Several places are named in the report but none in Cymru, or any mention of funding for us. Is this the old” for Wales see England” cac.

Last edited 21 days ago by Gareth
Steve
Steve
21 days ago

Years of Tory austerity – ideologically driven policy. The Tories don’t believe in the State.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
21 days ago

If billions accrued in road tax by the English treasury actually went towards road maintenance rather than be used as a Whitehall honey pot to waste on harebrained schemes like HS2 Wales & Britain would have a functioning road network to be proud of.

hdavies15
hdavies15
21 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

HS2 is so big in terms of budget consumption that it diverts huge chunks that would be better spent on maintenance and incremental improvements.

Charles
Charles
21 days ago

I would like to thank Gwynedd council for maintaining their roads in very good condition. Potholes are a rarity.

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