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BRITAIN'S LOCAL ROADS NEAR CRISIS POINT, SAYS NEW SURVEY

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The condition of most of Britain's roads is nearing crisis point, according to a new survey published today. ...
The condition of most of Britain's roads is nearing crisis point, according to a new survey published today.

The 1998 Local Transport Survey, carried out by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), shows that the cost of the backlog of maintenance work on Britain's network of local authority roads has increased by 20% - for the second year running - to£4.9bn. This is equivalent to an average of approximately£160 per head for every road licence holder; the 1997 backlog, estimated in last year's ICE survey, was£4.1bn.

Said chartered civil engineer David Bayliss, chairman of the ICE's transport board: 'This is a crisis which must be dealt with, because badly maintained roads and foot-paths are more unsafe and more punishing to drive, cycle and walk on. By skimping on maintenance budgets the eventual cost of repairs will be much higher in the long run.

'Tackling this problem will require a substantial injection of resources. The government's White Paper on integrated transport published in July provided a framework within which the underfunding of transport could be corrected in the medium term. However, this new survey shows that the majority of local authorities have concerns about the ability of government to actively deliver adequate funding. Local authorities clearly place transport low on their list of priorities.

'We therefore remain pessimistic about this problem. If nothing is done the crisis will get worse,' David Bayliss said.

Some of the other findings of this national survey of local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland are:

- traffic growth and congestion are easing, although traffic levels continue to increase

- unclassified roads have the worst maintenance problem

- local authority transport professionals strongly support the principle of the government's reforms set out in the transport White Paper

- they are, however, concerned whether these reforms will be adequately funded and about the progress over implementing them

- they are concerned that the principle of earmarking transport revenues from road users for transport expenditure could lead to even heavier taxation of road users in the long run

- local authorities support the principle of taxing workplace parking but not road pricing

- the political priority of transport as an item of expenditure is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future.

Notes

1. 105 out of 200 local authorities responded, a response rate of 52 per cent; 79% of county councils in England responded. See attached list of respondents.

2. The survey was conducted by the ICE in October and November 1998.

3. The survey is confined to roads under the direct control of local authorities ie all roads, excluding motorways and trunk roads. They comprise over 96% of Britain's total road network.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES WHICH RESPONDED TO THE 1998 LOCAL TRANSPORT SURVEY (105)

COUNTY COUNCILS (27)

Bedfordshire

Buckinghamshire

Cambridgeshire

Cheshire

Cornwall

Cumbria

Derbyshire

Devon

East Sussex

Gloucestershire

Hampshire

Hertfordshire

Kent

Lancashire

Leicestershire

Lincolnshire

Northamptonshire

Northumberland

North Yorkshire

Shropshire

Somerset

Staffordshire

Suffolk

Surrey

West Sussex

Wiltshire

Worcestershire

METROPOLITAN DISTRICT COUNCILS (15)

Barnsley

Birmingham

Bolton

Bradford

Coventry

Doncaster

Dudley

Kirklees

Leeds

Rotherham

St. Helens

Salford

Stockport

Sunderland

Tameside

LONDON BOROUGHS (13)

Corporation of London

Barnet

Bexley

Bromley

Camden

Enfield

Hammersmith and Fulham

Haringey

Havering

Islington

Richmond-upon-Thames

Southwark

Westminster

UNITARY COUNCILS IN ENGLAND (26)

Blackburn with Darwen

Blackpool

Bristol

Derby

Halton

Hartlepool

Isle of Wight

Kingston upon Hull

Leicester

Luton

Middlesborough

North Lincolnshire

Peterborough

Poole

Portsmouth

Reading

Redcar and Cleveland

Rutland

Southampton

Southend

South Gloucestershire

Stockton-on-Tees

Stoke-on-Trent

Thurrock

Wokingham

York

SCOTLAND (14)

Aberdeen

Dumfries and Galloway

Dundee

East Ayrshire

East Lothian

Edinburgh

Falkirk

Fife

Glasgow

Highland

Midlothian

Scottish Borders

South Lanarkshire

West Lothian

WALES (10)

Blaenau Gwent

Bridgend

Caerphilly

Carmarthenshire

Flintshire

Isle of Anglesey

Monmouthshire

Neath Port Talbot

Vale of Glamorgan

Wrexham

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