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Chancellor's roads fund prompts call for funding reform

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Ministers are being lobbied to give councils a share of the roads fund announced in the July Budget in a bid to address the “large imbalance” between funding for local roads and major highways, LGC has been told.

Conservative-controlled Surrey CC’s cabinet member for highways John Furey has written to ministers urging the government to use the creation of the new fund as a way of providing “fairer funding” to councils. The call has been supported by the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport.

Chair of the association’s engineering board Parvis Khansari, who is also associate director for highways and transport at Wiltshire Council, said funding for maintaining local highways was “under considerable pressure”.

He said: “ADEPT would like to work with the government to make sure the new roads fund covers the shortfall in the funding required for maintenance of local highways and address the large imbalance between funding for local roads, and that of the strategic road network.” 

Chancellor George Osborne announced that a new roads fund, funded by changes to vehicle excise duty, would be set up in 2020. However, the Budget document said the money raised from that would only be “invested directly back into the strategic road network”.

In a letter to the transport minister with responsibility for roads, Andrew Jones, Cllr Furey said he was “disappointed” only motorways and A-roads managed by Highways England looked set to benefit.

Cllr Furey claimed the county’s drivers contributed £100m in vehicle excise duty every year but the local authority only gets about £20m of that back.

He also called on the government to review the way it funds local authorities in charge of highways to maintain, repair and renew their roads.

Cllr Furey told LGC highways authorities currently receive funding based on a formula that takes into account the number of road miles in an area but not the amount they are used.

In his letter to Mr Jones he claimed Surrey’s roads were “some of the busiest outside London” and added investment in the highways network was “vital” to support residents and businesses.

The Department for Transport has not responded to a request for comment.

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