Council and industry leaders have called for a long-term funding solution to ‘the crisis in local highway maintenance’, following the publication the latest ALARM survey, which found an increase in the cost of clearing the repairs backlog.
The 2017 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, published on Tuesday, found that the estimated one-time cost of bringing roads up to a ‘reasonable’ condition has risen to £12.06bn.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) called on the Government to work with local authorities to develop a radical, long-term funding plan ‘to solve the crisis in local highway maintenance once and for all’.
Marie-Claude Hemming, CECA’s director of external affairs, said: ‘While we welcome the steps the Government has taken to date to address the damage caused by a maintenance backlog and exacerbated by extreme weather conditions, these measures have only started to address the problem and must be part of a longer-term strategy to address the substantial funding backlog.
‘To this end, CECA has long argued for local authorities to come together to promote prudential borrowing to fund a further national programme of intensive improvements to local roads significantly reducing longer-term repair costs.’
Cllr Judith Blake, transport spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said: ‘Councils share the frustration of motorists having to drive on roads that are often inadequate. Our polling has shown that 83% of those polled would support a small amount of the billions paid to the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.
‘Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The Government’s own projections show a 85.5% increase in congestion by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network needs over the next decade.’
Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association, said the survey’s finding that a sixth of local roads could be unusable within five years was ‘of considerable concern’.
He said: ‘It is not just about the provision of a realistic level of investment in what is our most important infrastructure asset. But for that funding to have long-term assurance so that highway authorities can carry out cost planned, cost efficient programmes of maintenance and not expensive emergency repairs.
‘Cost-effective maintenance that prevents potholes from forming in the first place surely is the logical financial approach.’