Page last updated at 00:25 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 01:25 UK

Industry warns of pothole backlog

A car and a pothole
The report says there are thousands of potholes to be filled in

Maintenance budgets need to be increased to clear a major backlog in the repair of potholes on roads in England and Wales, a report has said.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said there was now one hole for every 120 yards of road on average.

It would take 13 years to clear the pothole backlog in England and 15.6 years in Wales, the report added.

The Department for Transport said it had trebled funding for local authorities in England.

The AIA said that highway maintenance work would provide "shovel-ready projects" which would create jobs.

The average number of trenches in each English local authority was 13,212, and the figure for Wales was 4,613.

There were almost 800,000 potholes filled on English local roads last year and almost 94,000 had to be filled in Wales.

The situation could be resolved relatively swiftly by finding funding solutions that bring the bonus of creating more jobs around the country
Mike Linley, AIA chairman

The report also found that as many as 74% of the local authorities in England, and 88% in Wales, believed road maintenance underfunding was a threat to road users' safety.

The average cost of filling one pothole is £65. It is estimated that it would cost £47m per local authority to clear the problem.

'Immediate effect'

AIA chairman Mike Linley said that allowing roads to deteriorate was "irresponsible on several levels".

He added: "Local authority highway departments should not have to bear the brunt of public complaints when they are the ones who have the will and expertise to get our roads fixed.

"The situation could be resolved relatively swiftly by finding funding solutions that bring the bonus of creating more jobs around the country."

"Much of the £6bn expenditure on roads announced by the government in January has been allocated to projects that may not see the light of day for six years, if at all.

POTHOLE FACTS
Average number of trenches in each English local authority - 13,212
Average number in each Wales authority - 4,613
The average cost of filling one pothole - £65
Almost 800,000 potholes filled on English local roads in 2008
Nearly 94,000 had to be filled in Wales
Source: Asphalt Industry Alliance

"Highway maintenance work provides the 'shovel-ready' projects the government is looking for to stimulate the economy with almost immediate effect."

Councillor David Sparks, the Local Government Association transport spokesman, said: "The spiralling cost of maintaining our roads is totally out of proportion to the ability of local authorities to pay for it.

"Councils have consistently argued for greater investment to stop our roads from deteriorating to such an extent."

AA president Edmund King said: "After the initial onslaught of potholes, which led to 2,000 drivers with serious damage contacting the AA in February 2009 as opposed to 700 the year before, most local authorities worked fast to fill them.

"However, this vicious cycle of roads not being structurally repaired and falling to pieces again is a curse local authorities are unable or unwilling to shake off."

"Some blame has to go to local authorities for not ring-fencing maintenance money to invest in keeping roads in a good structural state."

Philip Gomm, head of external communications at the RAC Foundation, said:"Perhaps most depressing of all is the 13-year backlog of maintenance work waiting to be done.

"Drivers contribute some £46bn a year to the Exchequer, yet given the state of so many roads they are left wondering what exactly they are getting back."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said: "The government has more than trebled funding to local authorities for investing in their roads and last year announced new funding to help local authorities better assess the condition of their roads.

"This is in addition to funding provided for routine maintenance.

"We have also given local authorities more powers to minimise the impact of road works that utility companies and others need to carry out."



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SEE ALSO
Oxfordshire 'has fewest potholes'
07 Apr 09 |  Oxfordshire
Is there a North-South pothole divide?
07 Apr 09 |  Magazine
Appeal about action on potholes
17 Feb 09 |  Shropshire

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