Survey exposes Britain’s “crumbling roads”

12.00 | 14 March 2013 | | 2 comments

A third of drivers have suffered damage to their vehicles from potholes over the last two years, according to an AA/Populus survey (BBC News).

The survey of nearly 23,000 drivers also revealed that a third rated the condition of their local roads as poor, very poor, or “terrible”.

Meanwhile, the Asphalt Industry Alliance says that councils may need as much as £10.5bn to bring the country’s “crumbling roads” into good condition.

Road Safety GB first reported the results of this survey in February. At the time, the Local Government Association (LGA) warned that motorists are facing “catastrophic” conditions on Britain’s roads as councils are hopelessly trying to patch up potholes.

In January, ‘’ reported that potholes are getting bigger because of shortcuts taken when repairing roads. The dedicated potholes website claimed that the problem had been caused by the use of a cheaper form of asphalt to carry out road repairs over the last 10 to 15 years.

Only 10% of those who took part in the AA survey rated their local roads very good or excellent, with the lowest ratings going to Scotland and the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Drivers in Northern Ireland, Wales, and London reported roads to be in best condition, but even there more than 50% of respondents only rated them as fair, according to BBC News. In north-east England, 59% of respondents said conditions were worse than a year ago, while those saying the roads had improved were greatest in Wales (13%) and London (12%). AA members in Scotland were most likely to report pothole damage to their cars, with 44% saying their vehicles had suffered damage.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Our findings are deeply worrying and show that UK drivers are once again experiencing a bad pothole season after a lull last spring – perhaps with worse to come. The slight let-up in potholes this time last year may have been just a blip in the annual pothole blight that seems to beset us each spring.”

Meanwhile, the annual report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) showed that in 2012 council highways teams fixed 2.2 million potholes, 500,000 more than the year before.

However, the backlog in repairs is growing longer and 20% of local roads are now classed as being in “poor condition”, which is defined as having five years or less life remaining.

Based on responses from 75% of councils across England and Wales, the AIA report suggests that in 2012 the average English authority was £6.2m short of what it needed to properly maintain its roads, up from £5.3m in 2011.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils across England and Wales, is warning that if councils’ funding is cut, many may find it impossible to keep on top of road repairs.

Councillor Peter Box, chair of the LGA’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “Decades of underfunding by Whitehall, severe winters, and recent widespread flooding have left large swathes of our roads in disrepair with many councils struggling to move beyond simply patching up a deteriorating network.”

Norman Baker, local transport minister, said: “In December 2012 we announced an extra £215m to help councils get the best out of their road network. This is on top of the additional £200m we gave to councils in March 2011 to repair local roads damaged by the severe winter weather in 2010.

“It is ultimately up to local highway authorities to determine how they prioritise their funding, but we want to help them get the best value for money. That is why we are funding the highways maintenance efficiency programme which helps councils work together to deliver a first-class service to their residents, at the same time as saving money.”

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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    Interesting survey, but it’s not just the local highway authority roads that are in such a poor state, there’s many Highways Agency trunk roads too. I regularly use the A43 and A34 and the deep holes and lengthy ruts are truly shocking with a number of vehicles swerving wildly at the last minute to try and avoid them. With the ever increasing slice of tax and duty on motoring costs, these carraigeway defects simply cannot continue to be ignored as they currently appear to be. Vehicle damage and drivers taking evasive action could lead to real human costs, if that hasn’t happened on a number of occasions already.

    David, Northampton
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    “It is ultimately up to local highway authorities to determine how they prioritise their funding” Yes it is Mr Baker, but what outcry and backlash would there be if a local authority cut spending on say education, adult social care and children’s services to repair the roads? Are we sleepwalking into wholesale privatisation of the network or at least large chunks of it?

    Dave, Leeds
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