Opinion Former Article

Councils receive pothole funding boost

Local roads hit hard by winter weather and the recent ‘Beast from the East’ are set to benefit from an additional £100M made available by the Government to fund road maintenance.

Department for Transport says the money will help to repair almost two million potholes as well as help protect the roads from any future severe weather. However some have argued that the announcement does not go far enough.

“We have seen an unusually prolonged spell of freezing weather which has caused damage to our local roads,” said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. “We are giving councils even more funding to help repair their roads so all road users can enjoy their journeys without having to dodge potholes.”

The Local Government Association’s transport spokesman Martin Tett welcomed the additional funding, but noted that it only amounts to “just over 1% of what is needed to tackle our current £9.3Bn local roads repair backlog”.

He added that councils are likely to require further support from the Government as the full extent of the repairs needed after the recent winter weather becomes clear.

“We hope that the Government will stand ready to provide this,” he said. “When exceptional weather occurs, the impact on local roads can be significant, and it’s essential this is measured and that funds are provided for serious repairs.”

Meanwhile Labour’s Shadow Minister for Planning Roberta Blackman-Woods angled criticism at the Government. “Huge cuts to council budgets have left local authorities struggling to provide local services and look after our road network, resulting in crumbling roads, vehicle damage and placing the safety of drivers and pedestrians at risk,” she said.

“The Tories can't swerve responsibility for the sorry state of our roads. This announcement falls far short of what is needed to fix their mess.”

♦ Local authorities have spent at least £43.3M dealing with compensation claims from motorists and cyclists due to potholes over the last five years, according to new research published by Cycling UK.

The group’s findings are based on Freedom of Information requests issued to 212 highway authorities in the UK, of which 156 responded. Authorities were found to have incurred average costs of £277,700 – comprising the amount of compensation paid out plus legal fees – between 2013 and 2017.

“With the Government looking to encourage more and safer cycling, the UK’s road surfaces need to be safe enough for people to cycle on,” said Cycling UK’s senior campaigns officer Sam Jones. He called for a focus on fixing existing roads, rather than building new ones, and urged councils to adopt long term plans for road maintenance.

More Articles by Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) ...

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