How lack of cash for road repairs is putting motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in danger
North East roads are not being repaired properly, putting motorists, pedestrians and cyclists at risk.
That’s according to local councils – the bodies responsible for maintaining local roads.
Gateshead council said: “Budgets are now insufficient to provide the level of routine renewal and replacement needed.”
And it warned: “There are major economic and social costs associated with poor road maintenance, notably related to the risk of injury to people using the network.”
The authority made the comments in evidence to a House of Commons inquiry into local roads funding and governance.
Local roads, as opposed to main roads and motorways, make up more than 97% of the total road network length and carry two-thirds of motor traffic.
The Commons Transport Committee is investigating whether roads are deteriorating, the impact this would have on regional economies and whether it is effecting motorists directly, for example by forcing them to repair vehicles.
Gateshead Council, which is responsible for maintaining 560 miles of local roads, told MPs that they should be resurfaced every 25 to 30 years, but lack of funding made this impossible.
In fact, the average A road went 65 years between resurfacing, while B roads were resurfaced every 42 years and C roads were resurfaced every 127 years.
And the council said the “immediate risks of failing to maintain the network adequately” included personal injury or damage to vehicles.
It said: “While the majority of complaints about potholes come from motorists whose vehicles have been damaged, the greatest threat to personal safety from such defects is often to cyclists, who can be thrown from their bikes by them.
“Footway trips are a particular threat to the elderly, for whom falls can be a significant health risk.”
A joint submission from County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils highlighted research showing “a significant backlog in national maintenance expenditure”.
Nationally, it has been estimated that it would take 14 years and £9.3bn to clear the backlog.
The councils said: “The Road Network in the North East is fundamental to the success of the region; however it suffers from a significant backlog in maintenance set against a constrained funding environment.
“This places a risk on the operation of safe, accessible network for all its users and has significant socio-economic and environmental cost implications.”
Transport for the North, which works with local councils and mayors across the whole of the North of England, also highlighted the poor state of local roads.
It told MPs: “Our Partners are keen to highlight the need for a long term sustainable funding source for maintaining local roads, perhaps on a 5-year cycle. And that the current approach is having a severe impact on their ability to maintain local roads, and this therefore impacting on the local economy, hindering productivity, and compromising safety for road users.”
The Government has announced £23 million to repair roads in the North East.
It brings the total funds for North East roads for this year to over £76 million, the Department for Transport said.
And this year the North East will get £60 million from the Local Highways Maintenance and Integrated Transport Block funds, with the money going towards repairing roads and investing in small safety, bus priority or walking and cycling schemes.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “The North East will be getting an extra £23 million this winter to keep its roads in good condition to keep drivers and cyclists safe.”