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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 03:28 GMT
Under-funded roads 'risk drivers'
It will take 10.9 years to clear the road maintenance backlog
About four in five local authorities in England believe driver safety is being put at risk because road maintenance is under funded, a survey suggests.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance said London's road maintenance shortfall is 60m - for the rest of England it is 1.64bn and for Wales it is 151m.

It says planned investment is needed to end the "cycle of under-investment".

The government says it has given local authorities 3bn in the past five years to halt the deterioration of roads.

Given adequate funds, it would take English local authorities - excluding those in London - 10.9 years to clear their maintenance backlog, the AIA said.

The figure for London councils was 7.4 years and for Welsh councils 12.1 years.

The AIA said that on average principal roads were now only properly resurfaced every 73 years.

Short-term spending is an expensive and wasteful way of using tax-payers' money to patch together the capital's roads
Jim Crick, AIA chairman

One problem was that maintenance money was being spent on paying insurance claims for cars damaged by potholes, and pedestrians injured through tripping over.

English authorities last year paid out 47.3 million in settling claims by road users for damage to vehicles or accidents due to road structural conditions. The figure for Wales was 5.3 million and for London 16 million.

The survey also showed that English local authorities are receiving only 32% of the budget they need for road maintenance, while Welsh councils are getting 38% and London councils 58%.

Referring to the figures applying to London, AIA chairman Jim Crick said the capital's road did not reflect its status as one of the major cities of the world. "The cycle of underinvestment and reactive work has to stop if we are to use budgets effectively," he said.

"Short-term spending is an expensive and wasteful way of using tax-payers' money to patch together the capital's roads.

"Long-term, properly planned, investment in road condition is the only way we are going to tackle the mounting problems and deliver a road network that meets the requirements of communities and business. We need to do it now."

But a Department for Transport spokesman said the government had halted the deterioration in local road conditions by 2004 as planned.

He said: "Over 3bn has been provided to local authorities for this task in the past five years.

"We recently announced that we will provide 672m for local highway maintenance next year. This is the highest level of funding for highway maintenance ever committed.

"Local authorities are also able to use money from their revenue support funding for road maintenance. It is up to them to spend the generous funding from central government as they feel appropriate to keep their local roads in good condition."

Is your road poorly maintained? You can send any footage or pictures you may have to

Where in the West Midlands, the councils seem to have adopted a strategy of marking with spray paint where the pot holes are. Which isn't that useful even travelling at 30mph. I don't understand why they don't send the same man (or woman) out on a bike with a bucket of tar to fill the hole temporarily until a proper repair can be effected.
Nick , Birmingham, UK

In Surrey we have the same problems. Roads with potholes. Patches with potholes and repairs that last only a few weeks. Maybe we could ask jamie Oliver to set up a petition! Myabe it should be an election issue.
Peter Tindall, Dorking Surrey

The roads where I live are constantly in an abysmal state. No sooner does the council fix one pot hole and another appears. The road I live on in, is particualarly bad. Thankfully though we can report all pot holes on Trafford councils website, and before you submit your 'pot hole report' it even gives you a list of previous reports so you can see if someone else has already reported it.
Jo, Bowdon, Cheshire

The is a non-story. The Asphalt Industry Alliance is some kind of lobby group, whose purpose appears to be to inflame opinion. If people want better roads, they should choose what they want to give up in order to afford them or pay more taxes to the likes of the Asphalt Industry Alliance!
Steve Jones, Cambridge

My Dad is a Highways Engineer for a rural local authority. His annual budget to spend on maintaining the roads is slashed year after year. However, I live in a London Borough, and I can't believe how often the roads and even pavements are maintained. The goverment need to sort out the urban/rural split and allocate more fairly.
S Hall, Bromley

I wonder how many of the people stating bumpy roads are "dangerous for cyclists" actually ride a bike? As a cyclist I am in much more danger from speeding motorists than I am from potholes. As soon as a road near me was resurfaced traffic speeds rose considerably, I'd sooner see bumpy roads and slower, safer traffic.
Noam Bleicher, Oxford

The authorities callously pry every penny they can from the pockets of the motorist, using congestion, carbon emissions (where are the taxes for airliners then?) and safety yet will probably end up taking even more to pay for repairing the roads! Good job I've invested in a high quality, full suspension Mountain Bike then.
Paul, Colchester, UK

The roads in Coventry are absolutely disgraceful. You can't go 5 metres without having to try to avoid a pothole.
Paul, Coventry, UK

Within Hampshire I believe that actually resurfacing roads BADLY is the new traffic calming policy and it also explains some of the popularity of 4x4s. Many of the roads near to me have been resurfaced but they then don't bother raising the manhole covers etc. So the nice smooth road is then littered with 4 inch deep holes of varying sizes. If you care about your suspension and passengers any trip is a series of swerves to avoid the holes. The approach to our village has a brick marked pedestrian crossing point which is sinking and the road either side has been raised by resurfacing. I'm just waiting to get hit from behind as I have to slow down to negotiate this 'trench'.
Gary, Bentley

Why don't local authorities use the ludicrous profits gained from penalty charge notices to repair the awful roads that I have to drive on everyday? The worst roads being in the Borough of Lambeth, Southwark and other parts of London, where there are pit holes on many roads and speed humps that reduce your speed to 5mph when isn't the speed limit 30mph? And these humps still end up damaging your vehicles - how are they conducting tests on these speeding aides on 4x4's?? Alot of the speeding humps are also not very visual and almost blend into the road and quite often cause more accidents and damage to vehicles than actually prevent them. The state of the roads in London is disgraceful, especially when you consider the amount of money members of the public are contributing in taxes and especially with penalty charge notices (parking fines). Where is this money going to and are they putting it back into something resourceful or are they using it to to employ more parking attendants and install CCTV (the new trend in issuing parking fines) - shouldn't this be being used to catch real criminals???
Claudia, Kensington, London

My daily commute takes me along the back roads of the Oxfordshire / Buckinghamshire borders, which are in an apalling state. However, the greatest danger that I face are 4x4's careering along at great speed with no regard to other traffic or the fact that in many places they take up more than half the road. The single thing that could improve rural road safety (and my stress levels) the most would be if people drove with more consideration and SLOWED DOWN!!
Sam, Oxfordshire

I went to Poland the other year and they now have better roads than Lincolnshire. Perhaps that extra billion Mr Blair has given to the EU should be spent on our roads instead!
J Nourish, Grantham Lincolnshire

Our local authority is presently resurfacing a perfectly good road (the A1079) for no apprarent reason other than to cause maximum disruption to traffic over a six week period. At least I drive a french car that rides speed bumps with ease!!
Paul, York,UK

When the main dual carriageway ripples like a wave you know there's not alot of care going into road maintainence. The A442 is diabolical, there are bumps that could quite easily send you from one lane to the other & dips on slip roads that cover both lanes. A road I use everyday I reported the other week for having four 6" deep potholes & a trench across the entire road. Within 48hrs they had been filled. This was less than two weeks ago & the repairs are degrading already. For the amount of Road Tax we pay there really is not enough money going into making the roads safe enough to drive on let alone a pleasure to use.
Lisa Ford, Telford, Shropshire

A lot of it is down to local councils, who fail to spend our taxes on proper maintenance and turning bad roads into good ones, but are quite happy to waste money scattering road humps everywhere, thus turning good road into bad ones!
Dave, Nottingham, Uk

Roads are terrible. Even if they are smooth they are bumpy. Cheap materials, cheap labour and a quick bodge job done. What i like the best though is when you get a bumpy old road and they lay wet tarmac on it, then throw a load of stones over it and put up a 15mph max speed road sign for a couple of weeks.Classy.
tim , watford

Now, don't get too worked up about this............ Nice to see a lot of people in the UK have the same thoughts. Alan
Richard Barley, Berkhamsted; UK

All those recommending 4x4s as a solution for poor roads are failing to take into account the extra wear they cause. The heavier a vehicle, the greater the wear it causes to the road surface thus accelerating the deterioration. If everyone drove lighter greener cars then the road surface would actually last longer.
Matt, Hampshire

Many of the roads I drive in my area are in a terrible state, not only because of wear and lack of maintenance, but due to roads being dug up by contractors. Should contractors be made more responsible for the roads they dig up instead of it all being down to the councils and ultimately the tax payer.
Brian Greengrass, Brighouse, West Youkshire

While many of the main roads in Kirklees have had soem better maintenance in the last few years (Some being re-done within a few years(!)), the minor roads are still in a pitifull state in many areas. The local paper started a spot the pot hole campaign recently, asking the readers to photograph pot holes and send them in. For one road I regularly travel on, I'd need a larger storage card on my digital camera, as the whole road is disintigrating, plus this is the main connection between two major routes in the town. To make matters worse, the council spent a lot of money converting a road from a dual carrage way to a single carrage way two years ago, only to convert it back to a dual carrage way within the next few years! If we paid council tax based on results, many would owe US money.
Malcolm Ramage, Huddersfield England

Perhaps if Councils stopped blowing their road repair budget as they approach the end of the tax year on unneeded repairs (in order to ensure they get the same budget the next year) and actually targetted the areas that needed maintenance work, we wouldn't be in this position?
James, Oxford, UK

Sheffield council is very profligate with our money. We have a beautiful brick paved central reservation on the Parkway, while the road surface is dangerous, especially if you're on two wheels. However, when the consequence of their poor performance is an above inflation council tax hike for the rest of us, there won't be any improvement.
Sally, Chesterfield

The roads around my commute (South London) are absolutely appalling. It has been said that London's roads are at a third world level and this continues to be the case. My car has suffered significant suspension damage over the years due the the local council's failure to properly maintain local roads. It's a disgrace.
Enzo DI Sciullo, London, UK

Around rural Lincolnshire there are quite a few roads that were last levelled by a steam roller - i.e last done pre-war. Hard to believe, but true. There are even more roads in the area that last saw maintenance from the 1950's. I can still locate a gouge on a road created in the 60's by failing farm tool - I saw it happen as a schoolboy. The edge of the roads are ragged and the white border/centre paint eroded away and no cat-eyes since they weren't invented then. If you catch a wheel over it in poor visibility you can roll the vehicle. For 2-wheelers, the hazards are obvious. Never mind pot-holes, some are craters. The non-driving anti-road green brigade should take note that due to lack of maintenance, poor road surfaces are making more drivers switch to 4x4's and quite rightly so. Lightweight "green" cars can only be safe ,reliable + efficient on straight billiard table smooth roads, not twisty cratered ones - ask any MoT station. Never mind useless pseudo safety camera! s, how about proper safety engineering of roads. The so-called safety cameras are deluding the public and draining money from genuine road safety concerns.
martin, Cleethorpes

Poor road surfaces is something of an occupational hazard in Devon and Cornwall. Many of the roads are only minor routes and these rarely receive any attention. Such is the state of some of them that the surfaces consist more of grass than asphalt! I was recently forced to the edge of a minor road because of an oncoming large vehicle travelling at speed, and this resulted in me getting a burst tyre and needing a replacement alloy wheel. Had the council maintained this road and addressed the increasing problem of kerb erosion, then this situation would never have arisen. It is surely time that revenue collected from motorists was actually spent on improving our road surfaces. If our bureaucrats want to know how to do things properly, then I suggest they pop across to France where even their local roads are surfaced better then many of our primary routes!
Nick, Plymouth UK

Rather than moan on to someone who can't do anything about the state of the roads (like this website) I have e-mailed my local highways department on two occasions about dangerous road surfaces. In both cases within 2 months the road was fully resurfaced - it may have been planned anyway, but for it to happen on both occasions makes me believe they did actually act on my concerns. If they don't know about it they can't do anything about it.
Dave, Leeds UK

Around here the council would rather install speed cameras, traffic lights and signs with lower speed limits than spend money repairing roads because the former gets them brownie points from central government in local authority reviews and repairs do not.
Adrian, Telford

The current "Make do and Mend" policy for our roads is not only a blatant waste of money(Based on the principle of if you don't do it properly the first time then you have to keep doing it over and over again) but also a serious danger to drivers and cyclists. Most of our roads are like swiss cheese, but Council Tax keeps rising. Most Councils are badly run, wasting public money with poor ideas, lack of vision and doing everything anually to meet budgets. Why not use some revenue raised by the numerous speed camera's and put it to some good use...fix the bloody roads !!
E Jones, Bridgend South Wales

The poor condition of some roads causes problems such as damage, but particularly when cycling, when potholes become dangerous. Maintenance is a dirty word in the UK and inevitably, as we have grown the road network, so has the maintenance budget. Perhaps we should stop and think about the huge burden we are creating by relying so much on road transport.
PRE, Brighton

the road between Lydd and here is in a poor condition and is very dangerous for cyclists. Although this is a rural area and the road receives maintenance appropriate for that, it actually more than its fair share of heavy vehicles (and cars) going to the local mineral workings and power stations. With lorries getting heavier, maybe there should be more limits on the routes they can use or perhaps they should pay more road tax?
robbie craig, Dungeness, Kent

Drive a 4x4! There are two main advantages to this: (1) The holes in the road are less of a problem, as you have larger tyres and softer suspension and the bumps are softened (2) You won't be driving so dang'd fast, and thus end up breaking something (or in a field) when your belief in your car-control fails to live up to reality, and you lose it...
Ian Stuart, East Lothian

Southampton seem to operate a 'shared tarmac' scheme where they just move the holes around randomly closing off major routes. Having been declared public enemy number one (I drive a 4x4) I feel a little peeved that given the state of the local roads its the only vehicle capable of navigating some of our A roads safely.
Richard, Southampton Hants

The roads here in south Leeds are terrible, potholed or badly repaired. I have lived in the area for 2 years and the roads have got worse with no signs of any planned improvement. My street has several potholes that are so bad you can actually see what base was used before they tarmaced (looks like cobbles). The street is not wide, just enough room for a car parked and one to pass so there is no way of avoiding the holes which can jar your back nastily if you are not careful. The main roads could really do with there lines being repainted. They are very faded or non existent.
Rhiannon Bromley, Leeds,UK

Focussing on driver safety while mentioning suspension damage and tyre deflation fails to address the much more serious consequences of poor road maintenance for bikers. They can be killed by encountering such poor road conditions, or by cars swerving to avoid them. Making insurance claims would be a luxury not afforded to them. Russ
Russell Smith, Oxford

Several roads in Neston, Cheshire are poorly maintained. Monday of this week my mother was driving to work and hit a pot hole, bursting a front tyre, this also happened to one of her work colleagues on the very same road not so long ago. The road crumbles away at both sides, and is made worse by the fact that some holes are just filled in to a poor standard, where the road actually needs a complete resurface, and not the cheap stuff which crumbles away to nothing as it is only stone chippings on top of an already decaying surface. The road in question is upper Raby road. A540
adam underwood, Neston

In general major routes in Scotland are acceptable but minor roads are in appalling condition as are most of the roads in Paisley itself. In town the biggest cause is very poor reinstatement of works by utilities
D M Thompson, Paisley, Scotland

The roads here are a disgrace. They are breaking up and because of this there is lots of loose gravel on the road. Its bad enough for car drivers, but bikers not only have the problems of trying to avoid the potholes for fear of them causing an accident or damage to their bike, but the excess gravel on the roads due to poor maintenance especially on corners is another unwelcome hazard.
Mark , Brackley, UK

There's a road close to us that is a disgrace. There has been a massive increase in new housing locally and this road in particular needs condemning. The trucks/other work vehicles used this road extensively during the construction of the road and once the houses are built, it would appear the bare minimum in repairs are done. 2 months later, the road there is almost unusable leaving the Housing Contractors sitting pretty having wrecked a major route into the area. The road looks like a patchwork quilt and feels like rough terrain when driving over it. The council seem unwilling to repair these roads even though tens of thousands in extra Council Tax is being brought in due to new housing.
Steve Williams, Thornton-Cleveleys, Lancs, England

Half of this problem is local authorities reluctance to resurface roads properly if roads were properly resurfaced when needed they would last longer, the council persists in covering the roads with chippings every year which makes the problem worst as these loose stones become a hazard, as vehicles pass over them the road further breaks up, when will someone put an end to this waste of money
steve, UK

The roads around where I live are mainly rural, so we would expect them to be in slightly worse condition than the city roads, however, we also have quarries and forests around the area, so we have a large amount of HGV dumper trucks and timber wagons, along with the local army bases. These trucks accelerate the deterioration of the local roads, and I believe they should be paying something directly towards the upkeep of the roads. Another problem we have is that the local council are exceedingly reluctant to resurface roads. They are quite happy to come along and temporarily fill a pothole with loose gravel, only for the pothole to have re-appeared again within a week. Considering the amount of tax we pay in this country as drivers (both Road Fund License and on Petrol), I believe we should be driving on some of the best roads in the world. The damage caused to my cars by the roads over the last 2 years alone has amounted to over 1000, none of which the council would pay for. This includes broken suspension, buckled wheels, etc, etc.

Northumberland County Council do operate a policy called "Pothole Pete" who you ring up and inform them of the pothole and they will send someone to check if it needs filling, but this service only uses the temporary roadfill, thus creating themselves more work as they will have to re-attend within a few months to refill it again. I personally think that the government should be re-investing the money they take off motorists in tax and putting it back into the maintenance of the road surface. Another idea would be to plough the money they make from speed cameras back into the roads, as better quality, maintained roads can only be safer than poorly maintained ones.
James McLear, Bellingham, Northumberland

There is no doubt that the state of the roads in this country is continuing to get worse. I can only see the backlog of repairs getting much greater. In fairness Motorways do tend to be well maintained. It is the "A" and "B" class roads that in places are atrocious - don't even mention "C" class roads some of them are more like farm tracks round where I live. Its time for some serious investment in roads before the cost of claims out weighs the cost of repairs!
Gareth Wilson, Manchester

The roads around my area are in a disgusting state. the council would rather spend money on speed bumps and bus lanes rather than maintain the roads and pavements. no wonder they spend so much money on legal fees. They could catch people who dont have insurance and road tax
mr m walker, greenford, london

Two generally good, largely straight roads near me have just had their speed limits lowered along an entire length due to the complaints of one homeowner on 1 corner on it: Yet at the same time collisions occur due to lorries and cars crossing the central line. Could this perhaps be instead because (despite letters pointing this out) potholes are getting larger and more common at the side of the road forcing drivers to the middle, while the white lines remain broken and fading even on blind corners? Oh well - the police will be able to raise more revenue from people doing what they have been doing perfectly safely for 20 years....
Eric, Swindon, UK

As a local taxi driver/owner, you can tell when you enter Wiltshire, by the state of the roads, not the county boundary signs, also West Wiltshire gets all the new surfaces, whilst on the eastern A338 corridor and eastwards, all is forgotten. But I suppose the county town being in the west of the county explains that.
W.A. Jacobs, Ludgershall, Wiltshire

Many of the roads here are in a pitiful state, but our local authority just puts in more traffic calming bumps and width restrictions rather that repair the road surface...

I used to cycle round a road gulley where you could actually see the brickwork chamber where tarmac should of been !
ed wilding, Hemel Hempstead

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