National roads – motorways and major trunk roads – will receive 52 times more Government funding per mile by 2020, compared to local roads maintained by councils.
New analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals Government plans to spend £1.1m per mile to maintain the strategic road network between 2015 and 2020.
In comparison, it will provide councils with just £21k per mile for the local roads they maintain – and which make up 98% of the country’s road network – over the same period.
The LGA, which represents local authorities across England and Wales, is calling on the Government to redress the ‘disparity’ in maintenance funding for national and local roads, so that councils can tackle the £12bn repair bill required to bring local roads ‘up to scratch’.
According to the LGA, the inadequate funding comes at a time when the number of vehicles travelling on local roads is increasing and average speeds are falling.
The LGA also points to stats which show that there are now 125 cars per mile on UK roads – compared to just 101 cars per mile in 2000.
Councils say this increase in traffic volume is ‘ratcheting up the pressure on local transport’ – causing congestion and road maintenance issues such as potholes, wear-down of road markings and general wear and tear.
To combat this, council leaders want the Government to deliver a ‘radical new strategy’ to provide a fully-funded plan for the growing number of vehicles on the nation’s roads.
One idea includes reinvesting 2p per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance, which the LGA says would generate £1bn a year for councils to spend on improving roads and filling potholes.
Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesman, said: “It is wrong that funding for local roads is miles behind that of the strategic road network.
“Very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road. Spending 52 times more on improving our national roads will only serve to speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads.
“Our local roads form vital arteries for our communities. But with almost 30% more cars now on the nation’s roads than in 2000, they are under more pressure than ever before.
“Councils are fixing a pothole every 19 seconds despite funding pressures. They want to do more but are trapped in an endless cycle of patching up our deteriorating network. It would already take £12bn and more than a decade for councils to clear the current local roads repair backlog.
“Only long-term and consistent investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed, to the benefit of motorists and cyclists up and down the country.”