Councils shelling out less on urgent repairs such as potholes following a cut in spending of £560million


According to the experts, local roads are becoming more damaged and in need of repairs following a cut in council spending.

An investigation into the state of local roads up and down the country has shown that one in six may be in need of repair – this equates to around 60% of the UK’s total road network.

Figures suggest that from 2011 up until last year, spending on minor roads dropped by 23% or £560 million.

In the Department for Transport’s Road Conditions in England report, the condition of local authority-managed highways and other major roads had slowly seen improvements made over the last five years but this wasn’t the case for minor unclassified roads, with one in six (17%) assessed as being in need of some maintenance work related to potholes or crumbling surfaces over the same time period.

No improvements have been made to unclassified roads since 2011/12, with the situation actually worsening since 2010, which is when 15% of local roads should have been checked out for repairs.

Councils shelling out less on urgent repairs such as potholes following a cut in spending of £560million

Local roads are becoming more damaged and in need of repairs © Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


In stark contrast however, local council spending on an annual basis on major roads such as ‘A’ roads and motorways has increased by one fifth since 2011, to £1.43billion in 2016/17 – figures which have disappointed motoring campaigners.

“While spending on maintaining and improving the road surface on motorways and A-roads has increased, spending on local roads has decreased again,” said the AA’s president Edmund King.

As Mr King pointed out, many journeys actually begin and end on local roads, so it’s just as important to keep these in good condition as it is major roads.

Cutting costs have already resulted in 11 people losing their lives because of switching street lights off, whilst three cyclists have died after hitting potholes.

According to the report, motorists are in danger of skidding on over a quarter (27%) of local roads because of decaying road surfaces, with London coming out worst, as 48% of roads need looking into further.

Many councils have grumbled about the fact that they don’t receive enough money for repairs from the UK Government.

Potholes are set to become a serious issue if not tackled as a matter of urgency. The repair bill for roads to be mended in England and Wales could end up as high as £14billion within two years, according to analysis by the Local Government Association.

This figure is a few times more than councils’ entire annual spending on transport and highways, which stood at £4.4billion in England in 2016.

According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance, the figure needed for road repairs has increased from £9.8billion in 2012 to £11.8billion in 2017.

“The latest figures from the Department for Transport show the chronic need for more investment in local roads. Councils are doing what they can against a backlog of repairs on our local roads which currently stands at over £12billion and is estimated to take 14 years to fix,” said Martin Tett, of the Local Government Association.

The DfT has dedicated £6billion to English councils over the current parliament for improvements to local roads, plus a £50million-a-year fund has been granted for dealing with potholes.


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