Billions of pounds needed to fix potholes in the South East
The repair bill to fix potholes in the South East would cost councils more than a billion pounds, according to new figures.
That’s despite one pothole being filled every three minutes on average in the region.
In the South East, 186,000 potholes were filled in 2017/18, an average of one every two minutes and 50 seconds, according to the latest results of the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, which is produced by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).
In Reading, Berkshire 1,279 potholes have been filled so far this financial year.
In 2016/17 council workers repaired 1,245 potholes around the town.
The ALARM survey asked highways departments to estimate how much it would cost to bring their road networks up to scratch – assuming that they had the resources in place to make it practical to do so as a one-off project.
Based on responses to the survey from authorities in the region, it was
estimated councils in the South East would need £1.4bn.
The average highway maintenance budget per authority in the South East was £35.3m.
And in 2017/18, councils across the South East said they paid out a whopping £3.5m in compensation to road users due to poor road conditions.
But Reading Borough Council reported of 35 claims made so far in 2017/18, it had not paid out a penny, as of February 2018.
And it paid out just £157.50 in 2016/17.
Across England and Wales, cash-strapped councils report that more than 24,400 miles of road are identified as needing essential maintenance in the next year.
Councils in England and Wales have also reported that the gap between the funds they received and the amount they actually needed to keep the carriageway in reasonable order was almost £556 million – a shortfall of £3.3 million for every authority.
And it would now take 14 years to get local roads back into a reasonable steady state, provided adequate funds and resources were available.
Rick Green, Chairman of the AIA, said: “Although local authorities report an increase in average highway maintenance budgets this year, looking back over the last decade they have barely kept in line with inflation.
“This is reflected in road condition, with one in five of our local roads now classed as structurally poor – with less than five years’ life remaining – compared with one in six reported last year.
“Local roads are a vital asset, worth in the region of £400 billion, and they support all aspects of our daily work and home lives.
“But funding for their adequate maintenance has fallen short for so many years that further deterioration is inevitable.
“We accept that there is no magic wand to wave, nor is there a bottomless pot of money to tap into.
“There are difficult choices to be made at both local and national level but the government needs to provide adequate funding for a well maintained and safe local road network if it wants to support communities and drive economic growth.”
Reading council has been allocated a total of £163,975 in 2017/18 to fix potholes from the Government, this includes an extra £66,975 from the Pothole Action Fund awarded in December.