Capital spending on local roads in England is at its lowest level for over a decade, according to a report by the RAC Foundation.
‘The Condition of England’s Local Roads and how they are Funded’ highlights that in the last two financial years £1.8 billion has been spent annually on capital works, including road renewals and improvement, the lowest amount since 2001/02.
Non-trunk roads in England comprise over 97% of the network length, carry two thirds of motor traffic and almost all cycle pedestrian and other movements; as well as providing access to over 25 million properties and easements for key public utilities.
The report says that a critical factor in maintaining roads to a good standard is the availability of sufficient, consistent and reliable funding.
It adds that much of the money for capital spending by councils comes from the Department for Transport (DfT) in the form of the Highways Maintenance Block Grant but that fell by 18% in real terms between 2011/12 and 2014/15.
English councils are responsible for maintaining 185,000 miles of local highways, 90% of which are minor roads.
The report evaluates the condition of local roads, stating that almost one in five miles (18%) of unclassified road is in need of maintenance, four times more than motorways and major A roads.
It highlights that average periods between resurfacing range from 20 years (London Principal) to 100 years (unclassified roads outside of London) while there is a maintenance backlog of 12 years outside of London and 15 years in London for local roads.
The report concludes that poor local roads cost on average £5bn a year to small and medium-sized enterprises in wasted staff time, fuel costs, vehicle repair costs and production and that 4 out of 5 people agree with the suggestion that motoring taxation receipts should be invested in road maintenance.
The RAC Foundation report was conducted by transport consultant and RAC Foundation trustee, David Bayliss.