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Longer-term approach to local roads funding needed

Pothole

Asphalt Industry Alliance says longer-term funding commitment would make sound economic sense

THE long-range UK weather forecast suggests that there will be an early end to winter, but for local authorities dealing with the impact of last week’s cold snap on road conditions, the outlook remains gloomy, says the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).

For local highway teams, stuck in a cycle of patch and mend due to the long-term underfunding of local roads, it remains Groundhog Day – with the AIA’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) surveys showing that, over the last decade, cash-strapped local authorities have spent more than £1 billion on simply filling in potholes.

The AIA says short-term cash injections do little to tackle the vicious circle local authority highway teams are in – where the need to mend potholes on failing roads prevents much-needed funds being used to carry out the planned, proactive road maintenance that could help prevent potholes forming in the first place.

It advocates that a longer-term funding commitment to local roads would allow hard-pressed local authorities to invest to save, so that local roads can be brought up to target conditions, enabling them to be maintained in a cost-effective way in the future.

Rick Green, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said: ‘Investing in our local roads makes sound long-term economic sense, but Roadfile, our online hub for road-related statistics, highlights that the UK is falling behind some other major EU countries when it comes to spending on local roads.

‘While the additional funding announced by the Government in November’s Budget has been well received, it’s a fraction of the £1.5 billion extra a year, for 10 years, that we believe is needed to bring roads back up to target conditions, allowing them to be maintained in a cost-effective way in the future.’

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