Page last updated at 01:27 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Fuel tax bonus 'could fix UK potholes'

Pothole in Cardiff road
The big freeze added to the thousands of potholes already in the roads

The money to fix all Britain's potholes could be raised within 100 days if increased profits from VAT on fuel were diverted to the problem, the AA says.

The motoring group says higher than usual petrol prices for the time of year mean the government is getting around £1.1m in extra tax per day.

It says around two million potholes need fixing, costing £70 each.

The Treasury says fuel duty is a key contributor to public finances and there has been no unexpected tax bonus.

The Local Government Association says extra money is urgently needed to fix potholes caused by the cold weather.

'Gaping sore'

It says an £8bn shortfall has built up in council budgets for highway maintenance over time.

A spokesman said: "Potholes are the gaping sore in our roads network and councils know how important it is to fix them to keep people safe and prevent damage to cars.

"Following the dire winter weather extra money is urgently needed to fix all the potholes that are emerging."

If nearly 2p a litre from fuel tax was diverted into a pothole fund, for once UK drivers would be seeing their fuel tax disappearing into a black hole they can understand
Edmund King
AA president

The AA says petrol is currently around £1.12 per litre - higher than the 95p per litre which was the average price for petrol between January and April for the past three years.

It believes the government will have planned for a price of around £1 per litre, meaning it is now likely to be enjoying 1.8p more per litre in tax than was envisaged.

With 61.38 million litres of petrol consumed in the UK per day, it argues the fuel tax bonus should be able to cover the £140m needed to fix potholes in three to four months.

AA president Edmund King said: "If nearly 2p a litre from fuel tax was diverted into a pothole fund, for once UK drivers would be seeing their fuel tax disappearing into a black hole they can understand.

"Potholes affect all road users, from cyclists to bus passengers. They are a particular menace at night on dark rural roads as often the driver is unaware of the pothole until the damage is done."

The AA is inviting drivers to report potholes via its online AA Pothole Watch in an effort to build up a national picture of the problem.

The AA says last February's heavy snow pushed up insurance claims for pothole damage by more than 250%.

It is calling for emergency funding for road repairs to prevent drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists being at risk from injuries and potentially expensive damage to vehicles.

It says the worst areas for potholes include places where potholes have been poorly repaired in the past or where utility company works have been poorly carried out, roads which have not been gritted before icy conditions, and roads hit by consistent sub-zero temperatures.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the government had more than trebled funding to local authorities for investing in their roads and last year announced new funding to help local authorities better assess conditions, on top of cash for routine maintenance.

"Councils can also apply for emergency funding as a result of the recent severe weather and any such applications will be considered fully on their own merit," the spokesperson said.



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SEE ALSO
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