Council chiefs have repeated a call for equality between local roads and Highways England’s Strategic Road Network, following a survey that showed councils receiving one pothole-related claim every 17 minutes last year.
According to the RAC Foundation, drivers made at least 31,483 claims against councils for vehicle damage caused by poor road conditions in 2015/16, although councils only paid out in just over a quarter (26.9%) of cases.
Cllr Tett said councils fix one pothole every 15 seconds
Cllr Martin Tett, Local Government Association transport spokesman, said councils were right to pay out on genuine claims but will continue to crack down on spurious claims.
He said: ‘Councils are fixing more potholes than ever – one every 15 seconds – and keeping roads safe is one of the most important jobs we do. However, councils face a £12bn backlog of road repairs, which would already take councils more than 10 years to clear.
‘Over the remaining years of this decade the Government will invest over £1.1m per mile in maintaining main roads and motorways, which make up just 3% of all total roads. However, it invests £27,000 per mile in council-controlled local roads, which make up 97% of England’s road network. This difference in funding puts the country’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage and provides poor value for money.
‘That is why we are calling on the Government, in its Autumn Statement, to put the funding of local roads on the same footing as main roads. We are also calling for 2p per litre of existing fuel duty to be devolved to councils. This would generate approximately £1bn per year and help ensure that our industries and other road users have access to well-maintained roads.
He added: ‘Current funding levels mean councils are only able to keep pace with patching up our roads and filling potholes rather than carrying out more cost-effective and long-term improvements. Long-term and consistent investment in local road maintenance is desperately needed to improve road conditions for motorists and cyclists.’
In March the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey said councils were successfully working 'smarter with less money', with the overall cost of the repair backlog across England and Wales falling to £11.8bn from £12.2bn.
The RAC Foundation analysis was based on data collected from 204 out the 207 local authorities in Great Britain.
The average value of a claim was £432, though the average value of a successful claim was £306.
The English council with the highest number of claims made against it was Hampshire (1,952), followed by Surrey (1,412) and Hertfordshire (1,369). The Scottish council with the highest number of claims was Glasgow with 794. Cardiff, with 237 claims, had the highest number in Wales.