More money needed to tackle potholes, transport committee reports

MPs call for five-year fund to tackle pothole problem on local roads

More money needed to tackle potholes, transport committee reports

A Commons transport committee report has said more money is needed to tackle the “severe risk” posed by potholes on local roads in England.

The Filling the Gap report said that a lack of targeted funding was the key issue.

MPs have called on the Treasury to provide a “front-loaded” five-year fund to deal with local road maintenance.

Committee chairwoman Ms Greenwood said “cash-strapped councils” are being forced to divert money intended to tackle poor roads to fund other, more vital, services.

“Local authorities are in the invidious position of having to rob Peter to pay Paul,” she said.

“Cash-strapped councils are raiding their highways and transport budgets to fund core services.”

While main roads and motorways in England, Scotland and Wales are maintained by Highways England, Transport Scotland and the Welsh Government respectively, councils are responsible for the upkeep of local, more minor, roads.

In his Budget last October, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised an extra £420m for councils in England to deal with “potholes, repair damaged roads, and invest in keeping bridges open and safe”.

Not enough funding

But the transport committee report states there is still not enough funding – and current funds are not allocated effectively.

The committee’s 10th Report of Session 2017-19 said deteriorating roads can result in greater cost to taxpayers – with quick-fixes often proving more expensive in the long-term.

It called for a longer-term strategy to allow councils to plan ahead and encourage innovation and collaboration.

“Now is the time for the department to propose a front-loaded, long-term funding settlement to the Treasury as part of the forthcoming spending review,” said Ms Greenwood.

“Almost every journey begins and ends on local roads: the DfT must work with the public and local authorities to make them safe.”

“False economy”

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Not putting enough money into fixing the UK’s local roads is a false economy.

“We look forward to the Government’s response to this report and any action it plans on taking as a result, and we urge it to put forward a five-year investment plan.

“If just 2p of the existing 58p fuel duty charged on every litre of petrol or diesel sold was ring-fenced, over five years nearly £5bn of additional funds would be raised which would go a long way towards fixing the country’s roads properly as opposed to the current practice of patching up individual potholes.”

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