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LGA - Councils call for slice of existing fuel duty to combat road repairs backlog

The amount of time it would take to fix the nation's roads has soared by almost a third in a decade, councils warn.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, highlights how it would now take 14 years just to clear the backlog of road repairs.

This figure has surged from an estimated 10.9 years in 2006 to 14 years in 2016, a new analysis reveals.

Councils fix almost two million potholes a year – an average of 12,000 potholes for each local authority. Yet the average English authority faces a £69 million estimated one-time cost to brings its roads up to a reasonable condition. It would now cost almost £12 billion to bring roads up to scratch, according to latest figures from the Asphalt Industry Alliance's (AIA) ALARM survey.

To reverse this trend, the LGA is calling in its Autumn Statement submission for the Government to inject a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance. This could be achieved by investing just 2p per litre of existing fuel duty. It stressed this should not be paid for by increasing fuel duty rates.

Previous LGA polling shows that 83 per cent of the population would support a small amount of the existing billions they pay the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.

This would help tackle the damage done to our roads by recent harsh winters and decades of underfunding by successive governments, which has seen the national backlog of road repairs spiral.

The LGA points out that over the remaining years of the decade the Government will invest more than £1.1 million per mile in maintaining national roads - which make up just 3 per cent of all total roads.

This level of investment contrasts starkly with the £27,000 per mile investment in maintaining local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97 per cent of England's road network. This gulf in funding puts the country's businesses at a competitive disadvantage and provides poor value for money, argues the LGA. Virtually every "national" journey starts and ends locally, which means the road network is not working for people in their corner of the country.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Transport spokesman, said:

"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.

"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.

"Councils share the frustration of motorists having to pay to drive on roads that are often inadequate. Our previous polling has shown that 83 per cent of the population would support a small amount of the existing billions they pay the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.

"Our roads crisis is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority as part of the Autumn Statement. The Government's own traffic projections predict a potential increase in local traffic of up to 55 per cent by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network needs over the next decade.

"Motorists pay billions to the Treasury each year in fuel duty when they fill up their car at the pumps only to then have to drive on roads that are decaying after decades of underfunding. They deserve roads fit for the 21st century."

Notes to editors

Key findings of the 2016 ALARM survey, an annual survey of highway bosses in England and Wales carried out by the Ashpalt Industry Alliance (AIA), are:

  • The one-off cost of repairing all our roads would be £11.8 billion compared with £10.5 billion in 2012
  • Councils fixed almost 2 million potholes in the last 12 months. On average each local authority fixed 12,000 potholes last year
  • It would take 14 years to clear the repair backlog in England and it would take 65 years to resurface our entire road network. A similar survey by the AIA in 2006 showed the maintenance backlog was 10.9 years. This figure, and the 2016 figure, excludes London.
  • The average highway maintenance budget per local authority has fallen by 16 per cent.
  • The average English authority faces a £69 million estimated one-time cost to brings its road up to a reasonable condition.

previous LGA survey found 83 per cent of those polled would support a move to reinvest a proportion of existing fuel duty back into local areas to help bring our roads up to scratch -

The latest government projections which say up to 55 per cent increase in traffic by 2040.

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