Pothole repairs increase, but postcode lottery worsens

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Published on 27 March 2019 by Matt Colley

A study by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has found that highways maintenance budgets dedicated to fixing potholes have risen again by almost 20% and more than 300,000 potholes were filled in 2017/2018, but differences in spending by local authorities are stark.

The country’s roads have an endemic pothole problem – as the BMF has reported on extensively – and research by Kwik Fit found that more than 11 million road users in the UK were affected by potholes last year. The results often meant damage to vehicles that cost a total of £1.2 billion, injuries and even fatalities.

A Department for Transport spokesman confirmed that the government is “providing local authorities with more than £6.6bn for roads maintenance and pothole repair in the six years to 2021." However, this often takes the form of short-term ‘patch-and-mend’ work, which does not last as long as full repairs or replacement, and there are major differences in spending by local authorities – amounting to a postcode lottery for road users.

Chairman of the AIA Rick Green noted that: “There are glimmers of hope but, while overall highway maintenance budgets are up, there is still a big discrepancy between the haves and have-nots. Some local authorities received the equivalent of more than £90,000 per mile of their individual networks while a third continue to struggle with reduced budgets, with several having less than £9,000 per mile to maintain their local roads. Achieving target conditions on all categories of local roads – those that we all rely on every day – still remains out of reach.”

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