William Eichler 19 January 2018

Road maintenance spending at ‘lowest level’ in a decade

Newly released Government figures show that road maintenance spending by councils is at the lowest level it has been in 10 years.

Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show local authority maintenance spending on B roads, C roads and unclassified routes in 2016-17 was £1.87bn.

This is the lowest it has been in a decade and is down from £2.46bn in 2004-05.

The DfT also said the state of local authority-managed highways and other major roads has improved ‘gradually’ over the last five years.

‘The latest figures from the Department for Transport show the chronic need for more investment in local roads,’ said Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) transport spokesman.

‘Councils are doing what they can against a backlog of repairs on our local roads which currently stands at over £12bn and is estimated to take 14 years to fix.’

Emphasising the fact that councils face a £5.8bn funding gap by 2020, Cllr Tett continued: ‘Facing ongoing budgetary pressures, councils regularly review their spending priorities in order to enable businesses and communities to connect with each other, meet the needs of their local economies and keep road users safe.

‘However, in order to bring all roads up to scratch they need long-term and sustained investment from central government, which can be addressed in part in the forthcoming final Local Government Finance Settlement.’

Commenting on the DfT’s latest statistics, Edmund King, AA president says: 'While spend on maintaining and improving the road surface on motorways and A-roads has increased, spend on local roads has decreased again.

‘Most journeys start and end on local roads, so while there is an argument to keep the fastest roads in good condition, we should not be neglecting local streets.

‘Cost-cutting on UK roads has already contributed to 11 people losing their lives with the switching off of street lights. Potholes have contributed towards at least three cyclists lives. A systemic downgrading of inspection and repair standards for potholes introduces a new level of potential lethality.

‘If the Government and local authorities want drivers to leave their cars at home and cycle to work and on short journeys, allowing roads to become more treacherous for two-wheelers is not the way to do it.’

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