Laura Sharman 26 March 2015

Councils face 13-year backlog to repair potholes

Councils are ‘wasting’ the money they spend on filling potholes, as there has been no reduction in the amount it would cost to clear the backlog, according to an annual survey.

The latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey finds that despite councils filling 33% more potholes than the previous year, it would still cost £12.16bn to get all roads back to a reasonable condition.

The report also showed that while councils have reported an increase in their highways maintenance budget over the past 12 months, the time it would take to clear the backlog of repairs has increased to 13 from 12 years.

Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), which produces the survey, said: ‘Essentially, the money spent on filling the 2.7 million potholes reported is wasted − it is inefficient and short term in its effectiveness.

‘So, while we understand that the Department for Transport is promoting permanent repairs, the point remains that money would be better spent preventing potholes forming in the first place.’

Mr Mackenzie called for councils to adopt an ‘invest to save’ approach to road maintenance. ‘Moving forward, we need planned structural maintenance, resurfacing, strengthening and reconstruction,’ he said.

In response, the Local Government Association said councils need billions, not millions, to make the necessary improvements. Cllr Peter Box, transport spokesman, said: ‘It is hugely frustrating yet unsurprising that, despite our best efforts, we have not been able to make a dent in the £12bn roads repair backlog. Patching up our crumbling road network is simply not the answer to tackle the roads crisis we face as a country.

‘Councils need billions, not millions, to bring our roads up to scratch. Every mile of motorways and trunk roads will receive £1.4m funding over the next six years compared with £31,000 per mile for local roads. This makes little sense given the Government's own traffic projections predict an increase in local traffic of more than 40 per cent by 2040.’

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