MPs call for long-term funding to tackle pothole ‘scandal’

Councils should be given a five-year funding settlement to tackle the "national scandal" of potholes on England's local roads, according to MPs.

A report by the Commons Transport Select Committee (TSC) described the current short-term approach to financing road maintenance as "not fit for purpose".

But it warned that a longer funding agreement "must not be an excuse for a budget cut".

The MPs noted that an investigation by the Asphalt Industry Alliance found that councils in England and Wales would need to spend a total of £9.8 billion over 10 years to bring all their roads up to scratch.

Damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels are among the most common vehicle problems caused by potholes.

The committee's report said: "The fact that the English local road network has been allowed to decay to the point where it would take more than a decade to bring it up to a reasonable standard is a national scandal that shows a dereliction of duty by successive governments and individual local councils.

"The Government must act now to remedy this."

Lilian Greenwood, who chairs the committee, claimed most people "won't have to go further than the local shops" to spot a pothole that poses a risk of injury or damage.

Cash-strapped councils are "raiding their highways and transport budgets to fund core services", the Labour MP explained.

She added: "Now is the time for the Department for Transport (DfT) to propose a front-loaded, long-term funding settlement to the Treasury as part of the forthcoming Spending Review.

"Almost every journey begins and ends on local roads. The DfT must work with the public and local authorities to make them safe."

Local Government Association transport spokesman Martin Tett said councils fix a pothole every 17 seconds but face "significant funding pressures" which have a detrimental impact on services such as roads maintenance.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said not putting enough money into fixing the UK's local roads is "a false economy".

He continued: "In doing so, an unnecessary burden is being placed on councils.

"And then, when roads inevitably fail and need emergency attention, we all end up paying through taxes for short-term repairs that don't sort out the problem in the long term."

Roger Geffen, policy director at charity Cycling UK, said too many cyclists are being killed or seriously injured due to potholes.

He warned that the Government must put "far more" of the national transport budget towards fixing local streets if it wants to encourage clean and healthy travel.

A Government spokesman said: "We know potholes are a nuisance and a hazard for all road users, particularly for cyclists and motorcyclists.

"To improve local roads we are providing councils with £6.6 billion between 2015 and 2020, which includes more than £700 million for extra maintenance.

"We are also investing in trials on new road materials and repair techniques as well as using technologies to help councils predict when roads will need repairs and prevent potholes."