Cash from the much-criticised £250m Pothole Action Fund should be spent ‘in the wisest way possible’, a senior Department for Transport (DfT) official has said, despite ministerial pressure to spend it on filling potholes.
The DfT’s programme manager for the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP), Haydn Davies, hinted that councils could use the fund for proactive as well as reactive maintenance following funding allocations this month.
DfT programme manager Haydn Davies
‘The department likes to brand additional money for highways maintenance as being for potholes. Potholes sell papers, potholes go down well with road users. Authorities have the cash now. Read my lips; we want it to be spent in the wisest way possible by those authorities.’ Mr Davies said.
A breakdown for the first year’s allocation from the £250m Pothole Action Fund - which will give local authorities in England £50m a year over the next five years - was released this month.
Some county councils will receive over £1m from the fund, with smaller councils receiving as little as £43,000 - calculated according to the size of the network.
The fact that the fund was explicitly publicised as being for reactive pothole maintenance, brought a storm of criticism from the sector.
Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) described the Government’s approach of ‘throwing money into potholes’ as ‘complete madness’.
Parvis Khansari, chairman of council directors' body ADEPT’s engineering board said the cash was welcome but added that ‘money spent on patching potholes is an expensive short-term fix not a solution to what is a long-term problem’.