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Councils call for fuel duty money to be used to repair roads

Date: 31 October 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 local councils in England and Wales, has called on the Government to invest 2p per litre of fuel duty into road repairs.

Its call for action comes after the body claimed it would take 14 years to clear the backlog of pothole repairs - an increase of almost a third compared with figures from a decade ago.

The LGA said this trend could be reversed if the Government invests an extra billion pounds a year into road maintenance.

"It is becoming increasingly urgent to address the roads crisis we face as a nation. Our roads are deteriorating fast and it would take almost £12 billion, and it could be nearly 2030, before we could bring them up to scratch and clear the current roads repair backlog," said councillor Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     "Councils fixed a pothole every 15 seconds again last year despite significant budget reductions leaving them with less to spend on fixing our crumbling roads. Local authorities are proving remarkably efficient in how they use this diminishing funding pot but they remain trapped in a frustrating cycle that will only ever leave them able to patch up our deteriorating roads," he added.

Figures from the RAC Foundation, meanwhile, found UK motorists made a claim against councils for vehicle damage caused by poor road conditions every 17 minutes in the last year.

The average value of claims was £432 though successful claim values were lower at £306, thanks to just over a quarter of cases (26.9%) being settled financially.

In total, 31,483 cases were recorded against councils during the 2015/2016 financial year, a slight increase on 2014/2015's figure of 28,971.

The councils with the highest number of claims made against them were Hampshire (1,952), Surrey (1,412) and Hertfordshire (1,369), while the only council not receiving any claims was that of the Isles of Scilly.

"These figures are symptomatic of the inadequate funding available for local road maintenance," said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation. "Year in, year out, the backlog of work on local roads is estimated to run to several billion pounds."

"A pitted road surface isn't just a problem for motorists - for those on two wheels it can be life threatening," he added. "Just last week the chancellor acknowledged that there had been decades of underfunding in the nation's infrastructure and that he was keen to support targeted, value-for-money public investment. Providing the funds to fix our roads would be a great place to start and would show rapid results."

According to Government figures, by the end of the decade it will invest £1.1m per mile into maintaining national roads, which only make up 3% of all roads in England

This is in contrast to the £27,000 per mile investment in local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up the remaining 97%.

The LGA claimed the gulf in funding puts countryside businesses at a competitive disadvantage.