17 March 2020

Budget’s £2.5bn to fix potholed roads 'simply not enough,' say experts.

Britain’s potholed roads will be ‘fixed’ with a £500 million a year for five years Budget handout, but the Chancellor’s cash was condemned as “simply not enough” by experts.

The condition of the nation’s road network remains a long-term concern for fleet operators and all drivers with potholed roads damaging vehicle tyres, wheels and suspensions causing maintenance costs to rise.

The new dedicated Pothole Fund, additional cash to that already earmarked for road maintenance, while welcomed was, said RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes: “Simply not enough. The condition and maintenance of local roads continues to be a major concern. However, £2.5 billion over the course of five years may not by adequate, particularly if the UK is hit by extreme winter weather.”

Rick Green, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, whose work includes supporting local authorities in adopting a proactive ‘invest to save’ approach for road maintenance, said: “Over £1 billion has been wasted chasing and filling potholes on local roads over the last decade. What’s needed is sustained investment in effective road maintenance to improve the condition of our local roads and help prevent potholes forming in the first place.

“The £2.5 billion extra funding over five years announced by the Chancellor will certainly be welcomed by hard-pressed local authorities dealing with reduced highway maintenance budgets, the effects of extreme weather events such as the recent storms and an ageing network.

“However, £500 million extra a year divided across English local authorities is still a fraction of the amount needed to deal with decades of underfunding, which have led to deteriorating conditions and a rising one-time catch up cost to fix the problem.

“We believe that what’s needed is an investment of £1.5 billion extra per year, for 10 years, to bring local road conditions up to a level from which they can be maintained cost effectively to ensure a more resilient network going forward.”

Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM Motoring Assist, called potholes “a national disgrace” and added: “Potholes have been allowed to proliferate all over the country, leaving so many stretches of road in a truly dangerous state.

“Road maintenance programmes have rolled out too slowly. Potholes are a danger to all road users, and they cause damage. We would like to see action taken immediately that will give national highways agencies and local authorities the means to ramp up their programme of pothole repairs.

“We also want to ensure contractors work swiftly and smartly to make good the damage caused by potholes. This means fixing all the potholes in a specified area all at once, not selecting a few then coming back again and again to fix others. Let there be no delay in improving the state of our roads.”