The government has committed an extra £100 million to repair local roads affected by potholes and storm damage, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced.
This funding – which the government claims is enough to repair almost two million potholes and help protect roads from future severe weather – is in addition to the £75 million funding already given to councils for the Pothole Action Fund, and another £46 million boost announced before Christmas.
While the additional funding was welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), it is still too little to fully address the problem, according to Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at the FTA. “After years of chronic underinvestment, road maintenance has lagged behind what is required to keep our highways in top condition,” he said. “The recent spell of cold weather has exacerbated problems which have been ignored for years, and the neglect of the road network has left many roads in a dangerous state for all road users.
“The funding announced today will repair two million of the worst potholes nationwide. But this is really a drop in the ocean when you consider the parlous state of the country’s roads, which have been harmed by years of chronic under-investment. As a country, we rely on goods arriving quickly and efficiently but this is becoming increasingly impossible when a lack of clear infrastructure investment is hindering their movement.
“FTA is receiving increasing numbers of reports from its members of damage caused to vehicles by using the nation’s crumbling roads, and these costs will ultimately drive up prices for our manufacturing and retail sectors. At a time when the nation needs to be as competitive as possible, with Brexit looming, surely those responsible for keeping the country trading should be supported in their efforts by a fully functioning, well maintained, safe road network?
“Whether it is potholes, road closures or long-running road works, we all suffer when the roads do not work as they should. Congestion is bad for the environment as well as the economy. The UK Government should provide for more spending by Highways England and our local authorities to ensure the roads are fit for purpose.”
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, also welcomed the funding, but called on councils to acknowledge that the problem extends well beyond main roads. “Many distribution centres are based on large industrial estates for which the access roads are not part of the strategic road network,” he said. “The need for these side roads to be maintained is equally important in maintaining the viability of local businesses and the regional economy.”