Council leaders and industry figures have declared themselves willing to play their part in delivering the £1.3bn worth of improvements and maintenance on the transport network pledged by the chancellor, but called for more detail.
In his Autumn Statement on Wednesday, Philip Hammond announced an additional £1.1bn by 2020/21 to relieve congestion and deliver upgrades on local roads and public transport networks and an extra £220m to tackle key pinch-points on strategic roads.
Cllr Martin Tett, Local Government Association transport spokesman, said: ‘We are pleased that the Government seems to have listened to us on the importance of investing in local roads, particularly those that are heavily congested.
‘Whilst more money to solve congestion problems is good news, we need to see the detail behind the headline. We hope the Government directs this money towards local roads to help local people. Councils stand ready to work with central government to identify local schemes that can be delivered quickly.’
He added: ‘Councils need the ability to plan for the long term as, after all, it takes time to build new roads. They should be given a long-term commitment on funding rather than these annual announcements.’
Alan Mackenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), said ‘We are reassured that the Chancellor has recognised the importance of investment in road infrastructure to stimulate productivity and growth.
‘The devil is, of course, in the detail. Long term underfunding means that the local road network continues to deteriorate at a faster rate than it can be repaired. We hope the decline in maintenance funding experienced by local highways teams will be addressed by real and measurable increases.’
Thomas Moons, Shell Bitumen’s general manager, sales and operations, Europe and South Africa, said: ‘Shell Bitumen welcomes the decision by the Treasury to invest in the UK road network. The measures announced today by the chancellor Philip Hammond, in conjunction with transport secretary Chris Grayling, will deliver important investment for local and national road projects.
‘Durable, safe and sustainable roads have a central role to play in the UK economy. The investments announced today are aimed at improving journeys for motorists, connecting communities and businesses. Shell is ready to play its part in supporting the delivery of these ambitious infrastructure projects.’
Geoff Allister, executive director of the Highways Term Maintenance Association, said: It is clear that government understands the economic and social benefits of investing in our highways infrastructure, and that this will stimulate local and national economies, sustain jobs and growth in local areas and improve the condition of the road network.’
He added: ‘However, it is important that there is an appropriate balance between funding for road improvements and funding for road maintenance and I await the Department for Transport’s detailed plans with interest.’