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Pothole repair cost hits £5bn - Labour

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It would cost more than £5bn to repair the potholes on England’s roads as councils struggle to make repairs because of cuts to their budgets, Labour has claimed.

A survey of 152 local authorities found that 40% had a backlog totalling £5.36bn, while 92% of the 111 which responded to the questionnaire don’t currently have the money to fix the roads in their area.

Labour estimate that if the £5.36bn bill is reflected across England, the total cost could come to £13.4bn.

It found 17 local authorities reported individual backlogs of more than £100m, with three county councils - North Yorkshire, Kent and Devon - having backlogs in excess of £400m.

Nearly three-quarters of the councils which responded were cutting their road maintenance budgets in real terms, the survey found.

Shadow roads minister John Woodcock, left, said: “These new figures reveal the worsening state of England’s roads as a result of the government’s cuts - potholes have become a £13bn problem under the Tories.

“Motorists and cyclists are already furious that ministers have pretended to give councils extra money to repair potholes when all they’ve done is replace a fraction of the £432m they had axed from road maintenance budgets.

“Instead of continually patching up knackered road surfaces with a bucket of tar we need a proper strategic plan for local roads which could save taxpayers’ money a fortune in the long-term.

“What is needed is a radical look at new funding models, councils working together and better engagement with the private sector to tackle this problem.”

Responding to the claims, transport secretary Philip Hammond, right, said: “This government understands what a problem potholes on our roads can be, that’s why we are making available £3.2bn over the next four years for road maintenance and we found an extra £200m for councils to tackle the consequences of the extreme cold weather last winter.

“Even though we have had to make savings to cut the huge budget deficit that Labour left us, this government is still providing more cash for road maintenance over the next four years than Labour provided in the previous four years.

“Labour’s claims simply highlight their own failures on road maintenance over 13 years in power when these backlogs built up. Nobody will believe their expressed concern after years of neglect of our roads and our motorists.

“The truth is Labour left us with a black hole in the country’s finances and with potholes in our roads. This government is determined to do everything it can to clear up the mess they created.”

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