Local road maintenance budgets under pressure, LGA warns

8 Sep 15

The Local Government Association has warned today that the condition of local roads could continue to deteriorate unless the government provides additional resources for maintenance.

The umbrella group of local authorities said that as demand for “life-and-death services” such as child protection and adult social care continued to rise, funding for road maintenance would remain squeezed.

The comments came in response to a report by the RAC that found the condition of local roads was motorists’ number one concern in 2015.

According to the poll, one in ten of the 1,555 motorists surveyed said the condition of local roads was their top concern, while a further 20% listed the issue as one of their top four concerns. Half (50%) of those surveyed believe the condition of roads in their area has deteriorated in the past 12 months with just 10% claiming it has improved.

Responding to the report’s findings, RAC chief engineer David Bizley said motorists wanted the government to provide sufficient funding to ensure local roads are maintained properly.

Improvements would also require councils to spend more of their own funds on repairing and replacing road surfaces, he added.

“Currently, this is a challenge as they are under specific legal obligation to provide minimum standards in education and social services whereas their obligations to maintain roads are far less prescriptive,” he stated.

Responding to the report, LGA transport spokesman Peter Box said councils shared motorists’ frustration, but it was “impossible to compare repairing potholes with keeping children safe and caring for our elderly”.

He added: “With demand on these life-and-death services continuing to rise and funding from central government continuing to reduce, councils have little choice but to squeeze budgets for other services, such as maintaining our roads.

“Despite this challenge, councils fixed more potholes than ever before last year – one every 15 seconds – and keeping roads safe is one of the most important jobs we do.”

Box acknowledged that the estimated £12bn road repair backlog would take councils more than a decade to clear.

“Current funding levels mean councils are only able to keep pace with patching up our roads and filling potholes rather than carrying out more cost-effective and long-term improvements. 

“Long-term and consistent investment in local road maintenance is desperately needed in the Spending Review to improve road conditions for motorists and cyclists.”

Did you enjoy this article?