Council leaders have called for an extra £1bn annually for local roads maintenance, warning that 2017 could be a ‘tipping point year for potholes’.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the cost of the repairs backlog for council maintained roads could rise to £14bn by around 2019 – more than three times councils’ entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport.
It said the average English authority faces an estimated one-off cost of £69m to bring its roads up to a reasonable condition.
Despite the warnings, councils have made improvements in recent years and last year’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey found the overall cost of the repair backlog across England and Wales fell from £12.2bn to £11.8bn in 2015.
Cllr Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: ‘This year could be a tipping point year regarding potholes and councils, who have experienced significant budget reductions, now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14bn to bring the nation’s roads up to scratch.’
Cllr Tett claimed the Government spends almost 40 times more per mile maintaining national roads than local roads, adding this was ' it was ‘wrong and unfair’ and it was 'paramount this funding discrepancy is swiftly plugged'.
A recent study from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund found that total spend per mile of the strategic road network-mile was £643,000. This is more than five times higher than per mile of local authority 'A' road, or three times higher per lane-mile.
The LGA called on the Government to inject a further £1bn a year into council roads maintenance, funded by 2p per litre of fuel duty.
It said a previous survey showed 83% of the public would support such a move but stressed that it should not be funded by increasing fuel duty rates.
Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), which produces the ALARM survey, supported the suggestion.
He said: ‘Prolonged under investment, coupled with wetter winters, increased traffic and an ageing network, means that the resilience of our local roads is at a low point. Clearing the maintenance backlog is impossible without a significant increase in funding.’