The Government’s short-term approach to financing the repair of potholes is not fit for purpose, a report published by the Transport Committee has found.
The July 1 report follows an inquiry into local roads funding and governance launched in August 2018, and addresses the “extreme state of disrepair” of the English local road network. It talks of a “plague of potholes” and describes the consequences of a deteriorating local road network as significant, not only undermining local economy performance but damaging vehicles and causing injury to passengers. It also puts the safety of other road users at risk, especially cyclists and pedestrians, who it says are seriously compromised.
The report cites a lack of funding as the key issue, causing many councils to take a “mend and make do” approach that does not represent good value for money. Instead, it has called on the Department for Transport to propose a “front-loaded, five-year funding settlement.”
Lilian Greenwood MP, chair of the Transport Committee, said: “Local authorities are in the invidious position of having to rob Peter to pay Paul. Cash-strapped councils are raiding their highways and transport budgets to fund core services.”
Meanwhile, the RAC says too many local roads are in a woeful state, placing an unnecessary burden on councils as a result. Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: ““We warmly welcome the findings of this report, which recognises the means of funding roads under council control is as broken as many local roads are themselves, and that a new approach is badly needed.
“While it is good that major roads are seeing significant levels of investment, the same can’t be said for all the others and surely, in 2019 it shouldn’t be the case that a driver can switch from a major A-road to a minor road and see an immediate degradation in surface quality.
“If just 2p of the existing 58p fuel duty charged on every litre of petrol or diesel sold was ring-fenced, over five years nearly £5bn of additional funds would be raised which would go a long way towards fixing the country’s roads properly as opposed to the current practice of patching up individual potholes.”
The Government has two months to respond to the findings of the report. We look forward to its reaction.