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A recent report looking at the damaged and dangerous surfaces of our roads and pathways has stated that maintenance budgets need to be increased if the major backlog in the repair of potholes on roads in England and Wales is to be completed.
According to the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), we apparently now have to only go an average of 120 yards on one of our roads or pathways to find a dangerous pothole. Indeed, the report states that it will take a staggering 13 years to reach the situation where the pothole backlog in England is ended.
The question is, why is this the case? Could it be that Local Authorities are failing to upkeep the roads properly? They state a lack of funding whilst The Department for Transport reports that funding for local authorities in England has trebled.
How many holes?
Apparently, almost 800,000 potholes were filled on English local roads, whilst in Wales some 94,000 were filled.
Whilst the report says 74% of the local authorities in England, and 88% in Wales, feel that maintenance underfunding was a threat to road users’ safety, I would ask why they let this be the case.
If (as we are lead to believe) the average cost of filling one pothole is £65 – which seems extremely cheap to me, surely making those repairs would save money and many injuries and accidents in the meantime in the long-term. I have heard that the £65 cost indicates that the average local authority would have to spend some £47m to make their repairs. However, how much will they spend out in compensation and insurance/legal fees if they fail to make the repairs?
The AIA believe that allowing roads to deteriorate is irresponsible. Clearly, the situation can be sorted if those responsible and with the power to do so were to address the practices employed by the authorities and if the funding set aside for road repairs was actually used for that purpose.
What happens to the money we pay?
It is known that drivers pay around £46bn a year to the Exchequer, yet given the state of many roads and pathways in our country, they can justifiably ask the question; what exactly they are getting for their money?
Quoting a spokeswoman for the Department for Transport: “The government has more than trebled funding to local authorities for investing in their roads and last year announced new funding to help local authorities better assess the condition of their roads. This is in addition to funding provided for routine maintenance. We have also given local authorities more powers to minimise the impact of road works that utility companies and others need to carry out.”