Inquiry launched into crumbling local roads

8th Aug 2018

Industry stakeholders have welcomed the launch of a new inquiry into the poor state of England’s local road network.

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The Transport Select Committee has issued a call for written evidence on the funding and governance of council managed roads. “The consequences of a deteriorating local road network are significant,” said Lilian Greenwood, committee chair. “Our inquiry aims to investigate the situation in England, including current funding constraints and potential alternative models that could offer a solution.”

The committee says road condition and maintenance has been a matter of public concern for several years and has significant implications for the safety of cyclists. However many local authorities struggle to find the funding to carry out repairs frequently enough.

Responding to the launch of the inquiry, Rick Green, Chairman, Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said: “We hope the Transport Select Committee’s review will further substantiate calls for increased spending on our local road network. The condition of local roads underpins economic vitality and social connectivity in our communities. This year our ALARM survey reported that the resilience of the network continues to be stretched with one in five roads classed as structurally poor, up from one in six last year.It’s high time the impact of long term underfunding on local road conditions was tackled, so we will be actively contributing evidence garnered from producing the ALARM survey for over two decades into the committee’s review.”

David Bizley, Chief Engineer, RAC said: “This inquiry will be welcomed by drivers who have to endure the dire state of our local roads on a daily basis. The current approach with inadequate central funding topped up by emergency funding for ‘pothole filling’ on a regular basis, is not sustainable. We need the same long term strategic approach to fixing local roads that the Government has implemented for maintaining and developing the strategic road network.”

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive, Road Haulage Association said: “Hauliers know only too well how bad the roads are and everything points to them getting worse as road maintenance budgets continue to shrink. We urge operators to respond to the committee’s call for evidence.”

Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns, road safety charity Brake welcomed the committee’s focus on road safety, but questioned its chosen area of focus. “The condition of local roads does have safety implications, in particular for cyclists and motorcyclists, however, the extent of this is often overstated,” he said.  A more pressing issue for investigation, he added, is the high number of fatal road crashes where excessive speed is a contributory factor. “With road safety progress in the UK stalling and with increasing clamour for safer speeds in communities and on rural roads, now is the time for this fundamental issue to be addressed.”

The Transport Select Committee welcomes written evidence on a number of points including the condition of local roads, the direct and wider economic and social costs of not maintaining them and whether current approaches to maintenance need improving. The inquiry also seeks to explore the suitability of current funding streams for the immediate and longer term future and whether there is a role for alternative funding models.

“We know that this is a high priority issue among the public and I hope our inquiry will help put the onus on the Government to address it sooner rather than later,” added Lilian Greenwood.

The deadline for written submissions is 2 October.

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