William Eichler 13 January 2017

Councils welcome road maintainance funding but warn its ‘not enough’

Council chiefs welcomed the Government’s announcement that local authorities will not be allocated local road maintainance funding through an ‘uncertain bidding process’.

The Department for Transport today revealed councils will receive a share of a £1.2bn fund to improve safety, repair potholes and cut congestion on local roads during the 2017/18 financial year.

Research by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) revealed last week the overall road repair bill has been steadily increasing in recent years. In 2012 it was £9.8bn and last year it had risen to £11.8bn.

It also estimated the average local authority would have to pay £69m to bring its roads up to a reasonable condition.

The new funding includes £210m from the National Productivity Investment Fund announced in last year’s Autumn Statement. It also includes £75m which councils can bid for to repair and maintain local infrastructure such as bridges, street lighting and rural roads.

‘The funding we have allocated today is focused on relieving congestion and providing important upgrades to ensure our roads are fit for the future - helping to build an economy that works for everyone,’ said transport minister Andrew Jones.

Cllr Martin Tett, transport spokesman at the Local Government Association (LGA), welcomed the announcement and said the money was ‘desperately needed’.

‘We are pleased the Government has accepted our call for this funding not to be allocated through an uncertain bidding process which we hope will lead to more certainty and less waste across all of government transport spending,’ he said.

However, Cllr Tett warned ‘substantially more funding’ was required to bring roads ‘up to scratch’.

‘A £12bn current backlog of road repairs would already take councils more than a decade to clear,’ he continued.

‘Councils fixed a pothole every 15 seconds again last year despite significant budget reductions leaving them with less to spend on fixing our roads.’

‘Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority,’ he added.

‘This means the Government providing long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade.’

As part of the announcement, two councils have secured funding to test new 'pothole-spotting' technology.

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