Bleak outlook for local road maintenance

July 11 2018  

Bleak outlook for local road maintenance
Severe funding pressures expected to be faced by councils into the middle of the next decade will mean even less money for repairing the local road network, road surfacing specialists are warning.
A report published last week by the Local Government Association said that councils could face an overall funding gap of £7.8Bn by 2025, if reductions to core funding from the Government for local services continue.
Responding, the Road Surface Treatments Association’s chief executive Howard Robinson said: “This funding gap could have serious consequences for spending on the local road network.
“For decades there has been a lack of investment in local road maintenance. With continued budget restrictions local authorities are having to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ and are cutting back on highway expenditure in order to fund other council services.”
Last year, according to the Local Government Association, councils repaired a pothole every 15 seconds. “However, they are playing a never ending catch up game that is made worse by ongoing budget cuts,” said Howard Robinson. “Without a significant increase in local government funding our roads will go from bad to worse.”
Latest estimates suggest that authorities need over £9.3Bn to address the road maintenance backlog and, given adequate funding and resources, it would take 14 years to bring the network up to scratch.
The RSTA calls for a realistic level of investment that is ring fenced for spending on highways maintenance. “We need to have real, long term assured funding that allows highway authorities to undertake planned, cost efficient programme of maintenance and not expensive emergency repairs,” added Howard Robinson.
The RSTA also urges the Government to allow all local roads to receive funds from Vehicle Excise Duty and says 2p a litre from the existing fuel duty should be invested in road maintenance.
(Photo: Alastair Lloyd)

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