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Monday, 1 December 2014

Labour slam Tories for abandoning 'Pothole Britain'

Statistics from the Department for Transport show that there has been a big increase in the number of local roads that need fixing since 2010. Since the Tory-led government came in, another 2,262 miles of local roads are now in such poor condition that they need maintenance work. The extra distance is further than going from Land's End to John O'Groats and back again. And overall, more than 17 per cent of our local roads (over 19,000 miles) should be considered for maintenance work, according to the DfT. The figures also show that spending on all road maintenance on local authority minor roads has dropped by 20 per cent since 2010 (from £2,221 million to £1,782 million).

Local roads in particular are being ignored under this Government. A recent report by the Local Government Association has shown how the Government has earmarked £1.4 million per mile for maintenance of the strategic roads network over the six-year period to 2021, but only £31,700 per mile for local roads over the same period. On current projections, principal roads on the local network have to wait on average 33 years to be resurfaced. Although the Government have set out £976 million a year for local road maintenance - this will be a decline in real terms, to £865 million a year by 2020. It was £920 million in 2010. Local authority budgets, which also provide funding for roads maintenance, have been slashed by a third under this government. 

Councils are also now facing soaring compensation claims over pothole damage. Research by the insurers LV= has shown that over 26,000 compensation claims for damage relating to potholes were received by local authorities in the past financial year, a rise of almost a quarter from last year, with compensation pay outs now exceeding £5 million. The NAO has reported that while 91 per cent of the public are happy with the current upkeep of the strategic road network, only 30 per cent are for local roads.

Labour would prioritise better to fix pothole Britain. Labour would:

  • Prioritise funding so more money is invested in fixing potholes on local roads;
  • Ensure councils have clear asset management plans in place for their local roads by 2020;
  • Give councils new tools and power including cheaper joint procurement with other councils and joined up 'pothole and street works' plans to stop the same roads being dug up time and time again.

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, 
Michael Dugher, said: "Ministers need to take responsibility for the pothole epidemic on our local roads. Cameron slashed spending on road maintenance in 2010 and has ignored local roads for too long. Now over 2,220 miles more of our local roads need maintenance work. Motorists are justifiably sick and tired of their cars getting damaged because of potholes. It's time to fix pothole Britain."