Money councils have been forced to cut from road maintenance funding since 2010 could have paid for the repair of nearly 8 million potholes, analysis by the Local Government Association has revealed.
At the LGA’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth, town hall leaders are calling on the Government to use this year’s Spending Review to deliver a long-term funding plan “to save our roads”.
Latest figures show that the amount of money councils have been able to spend on routine road maintenance has fallen from £1.1 billion in 2009/10 to around £701 million in 2017/18 – a 37 per cent reduction.
Routine road maintenance includes minor road repairs such as potholes, cleaning drains, inspection and fixing street lighting.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, estimates that this reduction could have covered the cost of repairing 7.8 million potholes.
With councils having lost 60p out of every £1 in central government funding between 2010 and 2020, services such as road maintenance have had to be stripped back to pay for an ongoing surge in demand for children’s services, adult social care support and homelessness support.
Councils are presently fixing a pothole every 17 seconds but it will still take more than £9 billion and a decade to tackle our road repairs backlog. A review is now urgently needed to make long-term improvements on our dilapidated roads.
The LGA’s Transport spokesman, Cllr Martin Tett, said:
“Potholes can be the bane of the motorist’s life. They can damage vehicles and cause accidents.
“Councils are on the side of the motorist and are doing all they can to keep our roads safe and resilient, repairing potholes as quickly as they can.
“But unprecedented funding cuts have meant councils are increasingly limited in how much they can invest in looking after our country’s roads.
“It is not right that the Government spends 43 times per mile more on maintaining our national roads – which make up just 3 per cent of all roads – than on local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97 per cent of England’s road network.
“While the extra one-off funding announced in recent years has helped, we need the government to follow with a long-term funding plan to save our roads in the Spending Review.”
This amounts to a £412,265,000 reduction, which could cover the cost of paying for 7.8 million pothole repairs, based on an average pothole repair cost of £53.
4. The LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign aims to influence the forthcoming Spending Review and highlight the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils. Visit our campaign page for more information.