Pothole cash '˜nowhere near enough to fix problem'

The government's £50m funding boost to remove potholes was criticised today as nowhere near enough to fix dangerous roads.

Thursday, 7th April 2016, 1:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2016, 1:31 pm

Nearly one million potholes will be repaired in England over the next 12 months through the Pothole Action Fund, according to the Department for Transport (DfT). But councils need more than 230 times that amount, the Local Government Association warned.

Portsmouth will get £76,000 - at £53 a time, enough to fix 1,434 potholes. Hampshire County Council will get £1,488,000, enought to repair 28,075 potholes,

The government says that across the south east, councils will share £8,334,000 to fix 157,000 potholes.

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Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the fund is part of £6.1 billion of Government money being spent on local road maintenance over the next five years.

But councillor Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesman, claimed budget restrictions mean councils are in a “frustrating cycle” where they can only “patch up” inadequate roads rather than carry out resurfacing projects.

He said: “While £50 million is a step in the right direction, councils need more than 230 times that amount to cover the £11.8 billion cost to bring our roads up to scratch.

“The money announced today will help those councils receiving it to tackle potholes, but it would not even completely cover the cost of the £69 million faced by the average authority to bring its roads up to a reasonable condition.”

Motoring organisations also called for urgent action to be taken.

AA president Edmund King said £50 million to repair potholes “can only be described as a drop in the ocean”, adding: “It is a false economy to put off until tomorrow what everyone knows needs to be done now.”

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said “any cash to fix potholes is welcome”, but warned that the local road network would remain “doomed” as the weak link in transport infrastructure until preventative maintenance is prioritised.

The Pothole Action Fund, which featured in last month’s Budget, is worth £250 million over the next five years.

A recent survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance found that it will cost £11.8 billion and take 14 years to fix roads in England and Wales.

Mr McLoughlin said: “I know how important well-maintained roads are to people across the country. Almost every journey starts and ends on a local road, so the Government is giving councils £250 million specifically to tackle the blight of potholes in their area.

“This is just one part of our unprecedented investment in local road maintenance over the next five years. We are giving a record £6 billion to local authorities in England that will improve journeys across the regions.”

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said: “This money, and the fact that the pothole crisis was acknowledged in the Budget, is welcome. But so many local roads are in such a dreadful condition that much more money will be needed, and soon.

“Britain is afflicted by a pothole plague that is causing needless damage and congestion which is hurting car drivers, hauliers and the economy as well as vulnerable road users, including cyclists.”