Local authority funding for roads maintenance should be ring-fenced for the specific purpose of keeping roads in a safe operating condition and should not be siphoned off for other uses. Poorly maintained roads with potholes and rutting are a road safety hazard as well as generating an enormous waste of money in tyre and vehicle repairs.
The Freight Transport Association made these comments in reacting to the publication of the Asphalt Industry Alliance report which showed that there are over 3.5 million potholes in UK local roads. The report also revealed a shortfall in highway maintenance budgets in excess of £1 billion with local authorities saying that current funding is inadequate and will result in a further deterioration of the roads network.
FTA's Head of Urban Access Policy, Stephen Kelly said, 'Whilst local authorities clearly face financial constraints on roads maintenance budgets, surely these resources should be positively protected and used only for the reasons they were originally agreed or granted.
'At the same time, the Government must increase the funding provided to local authorities in order that they are able to maintain their roads in a fit and proper condition, commensurate with traffic efficiency and road safety, rather than on what seems to be the current 'patch and mend' basis.
'Cutting costs on road maintenance is a false economy, with a total of £53 million being paid out in compensation claims from road users in 2007.'
Kelly also referred to the reasons why roads were dug up so often. He said, 'Streetworks are a common cause of frustration for all motorists. However, there is an infrastructure beneath the surface of the road that needs to be maintained to essential levels. It is not in the interests of the various utility companies to dig up the roads for the sake of it – roads are being dug up to improve the infrastructure beneath, whether that be gas, electricity, water or communications.
'The new legislation in relation to streetworks that has just been adopted will ensure that such works are carried out in one single hit over one single period rather than in a number of hits over a number of periods. The introduction of a permit scheme to undertake streetworks will allow the utility companies to work together to improve the co-ordination of such works so that the same piece of road is not being dug up on separate occasions.
'What we must accept is that the services subject to streetworks are a fundamental element of the way we live. However, we need better co-ordination of the way in which we carry out such works.'
The Asphalt Industry Alliance report can be found by going to: