Councils 'miles behind' on potholes

Car avoiding potholeLocal authorities are still miles behind with road repairs despite filling in 1.7 million potholes last year.

It will take English councils 11 years to clear the road maintenance backlog, while Welsh councils will take 17 years, a report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said.
With the average cost of filling in potholes ranging from £35 in Wales to £55 in England, around £90 million was spent on pothole work last year.

Councils in England and Wales have, in total, an annual road maintenance funding shortfall of nearly £800 million, with the average for each English council being £5.3 million.

The AIA report also showed that damage caused by the harsh winter of 2010/11 cost £600 million, with two-thirds of councils unable to make good this damage. The average cost each authority in England needed to spend repairing winter damage was £4.4 million.

The AIA said the additional Government funding of £200 million to help councils, although welcome, "has proven woefully inadequate".

Overall, the AIA said the estimated "one-off" cost to get roads back into reasonable condition was nearly £10 billion. The report also said the number of complaints received by local authorities from the public about the condition of roads increased by 10% last year.

AA president Edmund King said: "AA members are very concerned at this pothole plague. The AIA survey once again shows that potholes blight our roads and are as much about lack of investment in proper road repairs as they are about bad winters and heavy traffic. We need a new approach to stop this vicious circle of decline which causes danger to all road users, particularly those on two wheels, and expensive damage to vehicles."

Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said highway teams had been filling potholes "at a rate of one every 18 seconds" and had reduced the average cost of filling a pothole from £64 to £48 over the last two years.

He went on: "Councils are currently stuck in the position of chasing their tails, repeatedly patching up a deteriorating network rather than fixing it properly. What is needed from central government is a serious commitment to funding an upgrade of the entire road network. This will save billions of pounds in the long term and make roads safer for motorists."
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