Potholes ‘a severe risk for many’

12.17 | 1 July 2019 | | 1 comment

The Government’s current short-term approach to financing road maintenance is not ‘fit for purpose’, a new report concludes.

The report, published by the Transport Committee, addresses the ‘extreme state of disrepair’ of the English local road network and follows an inquiry into local roads funding and governance launched in August 2018.

The report describes the consequences of a deteriorating local road network as ‘significant’ – especially when it comes to safety of cyclists and pedestrians – who are ‘seriously compromised’.

It says the existing ‘mend and make do’ approach does not represent good value for money – instead calling on the DfT to propose a ‘front-loaded, five-year funding settlement’.

Lilian Greenwood MP, chair of the Transport Committee, said: “Local roads are the arteries of our villages, towns and cities, but most people won’t have to go further than the local shops to spot a pothole that poses a risk of injury or damage.

“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. 

“This is not an isolated example – it’s been a common thread in our other recent inquiries on buses and active travel. 

“Now is the time for the DfT to propose a front-loaded, long-term funding settlement to the Treasury as part of the forthcoming spending review.”

Support from stakeholders
The report has been welcomed by stakeholders, including IAM RoadSmart, who backs calls for a long-term plan to tackle the ‘national scandal’ of potholes.

Rodney Kumar, IAM RoadSmart spokesman, said: “While we understand that local government funding has been cut, the effect of pothole damage to beleaguered British motorists is huge. It costs them a fortune, stops them getting to work and has a detrimental effect on the economy.

“It really is time to ring-fence funds for tackling this pothole epidemic, and get the problem sorted once and for all.” 

Meanwhile, the RAC says too many local roads are in a ‘woeful state’ and as a result, are placing an ‘unnecessary burden’ on councils.

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.

“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.”


 

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    Interesting timing of the news that councils are getting millions from car parking which is ring fenced for roads and they say they need more money!

    Councils in England could make a record surplus of £1bn from parking charges and penalties this year, a study says.

    An analysis of budgets commissioned by the RAC Foundation found authorities expect to make a total surplus of £913m from parking activities in 2019-20.

    But it found the amount made in the last three years was underestimated.

    Councils point out surplus money from parking must be spent on local transport. Westminster council had the largest estimated surplus of £72.1m.

    This was followed by five other London councils – Kensington and Chelsea (£36m), Camden (£28.3m), Islington (£25.9m), Wandsworth (£25.9m) and Hammersmith and Fulham (£25.6m).

    The study examined budget figures provided by councils to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

    Of the 343 councils in the study, 278 said they expected to record a surplus from parking for the current financial year.

    Some 65 councils said they were preparing to break even or incur a loss, the research said.

    The highest budgeted surplus outside of London was Brighton and Hove (£24m) in seventh place, with other authorities in the top 20 including Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (£13.7m), Bristol (£12.5m), and Birmingham (£12.4m).

    RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding described £1bn as “quite a windfall from a service that is intended to be all about managing traffic”.

    Martin Tett, a spokesman for the Local Government Association, said councils were “on the side of motorists” but must “strike a balance” when setting parking policy to ensure “there are spaces available for residents, high streets are kept vibrant and traffic is kept moving”.

    He added any income raised through on-street parking charges was spent “on running parking services”, while surplus was “only spent on essential transport projects” such as solving the roads repair backlog.


    Peter Wilson, Chichester
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