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Councils struggling to repair roads - RAC

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Local authorities are still struggling to complete road repairs after last winter’s severe weather, according to an RAC survey.

Ten out of 11 rural councils questioned had not finished all the necessary repairs, the RAC poll found.

And most of the nine urban councils surveyed had also reported they had not cleared the backlog.

The survey, which involved councils in England, Wales and Scotland, also showed that many were worried about the effect on roads of possible cuts that might be announced by the government this week.

In addition, many councils had budget deficits as a result of road spending due to last winter’s damage, with individual shortfalls of up to £10m.

The RAC said councils feared they were running out of time to make repairs before another winter, leaving the road network vulnerable to further structural weakening.

A spokesman for one rural council in England said: “Two severe winters in a row have taken a severe toll on our highway network with record numbers of potholes reported and highway maintenance increasingly on the agenda.

“The local highway network will continue to decline, more and more roads will fall into disrepair and reactive costs (potholes) will continue to climb reducing further the resources available for preventative maintenance.”

RAC motoring strategist Adrian Tink said: “A recent survey showed that £9.5bn is needed to bring the roads up to scratch, and that is in England and Wales alone.

“We are in difficult times, and I appreciate that spending cuts have to be made, but the long-term impact of this could be terrible for the UK’s road users, particularly those in rural areas where roads are a lifeline.

“UK motorists pay an annual total of around £49bn in motoring taxes, yet they face years of potholes and poorly-maintained roads damaging their vehicles and drastically reducing road safety.”

A spokeswoman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, said bad winter weather for the last two years has taken a toll on the roads.

She said: “Councils have responded by fixing a record number of potholes in the past year.

“Councils have consistently argued for greater investment to stop our roads from deteriorating to such an extent, but no-one in town halls up and down the country is naive enough to think that there is a blank cheque available to fund all the road maintenance that councils would like to be able to carry out on behalf of motorists and local residents.

“Local government is arguing for a complete rethink of how funding for maintenance projects is organised, so local areas have maximum flexibility in setting their own priorities and avoid storing up big bills for the future.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • My initial employment within LA's was as a highways engineer, rising to Head of Service in time. For the last 18 years I've acted as Change Manager, able to understand cause and effect, and diagnose the root cause of problems.

    I travel quite extensively, and more often than not see issues which will become serious as soon as wet / freezing conditions resume. With counties losing around £5M per year each on highways, we will soon become a third tier nation in terms of infrastructure, most of which is avoidable.

    The costs of pothole repairs could be reduced by a factor of four, once the old style contract management is eliminated. The cause of most highway failures are due to a narrow range of issues, Pareto analysis applies, 20% of causes lead to 80% of problems... right at the top will be poor repairs by undertakers, guess where the first reductions in budgets will hit, those people controlling the undertakers, so will it get better??? No way!

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