Although the government announced in April a £250m fund for repairing potholes, the sum will be spread over five years. Local councils will receive just £50 million in 2016/17, but with more than 100 councils in England lining up to receive the cash, the funding has been described as a 'drop in the ocean' compared to the scale of our road maintenance problem.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has calculated that the backlog in road repairs will take £12 billion and "more than a decade" to clear. Cllr Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said: “While £50 million is a step in the right direction, councils need more than 230 times that amount to cover the £11.8 billion cost to bring our roads up to scratch.
"The money announced today will help those councils receiving it to tackle potholes, but it would not even completely cover the cost of the £69 million faced by the average authority to bring its roads up to a reasonable condition.
“The condition of our roads is only going to get worse unless we address it as a national priority. The government’s own traffic projections predict a potential increase in traffic of up to 55% by 2040. Councils desperately need long-term and consistent funding to invest in the resurfacing projects which our road network desperately needs over the next decade", Cllr Tett warned.
The AA's survey of 25,208 drivers revealed that 39% said their tyres, bodywork or other parts of their vehicles had been affected after hitting a pothole in the past two years. Responding to the survey's findings, AA president Edmund King called on local authorities to "get to grips with fundamental road maintenance".
Earlier this year the RAC also reported that pothole-related call-outs had risen 25% between 2014 and 2015 to 25,487.
But it's not only drivers our damaged roads affect seriously. Cycling UK's campaigns coordinator Sam Jones commented that "Potholes can be a lethal danger to cyclists and other vulnerable road users. In 2014, the police decided that a 'poor or defective' road surface contributed to almost three times more crashes involving pedal cyclists than it did in those involving cars."
Potholes may seem like a peripheral and minor problem, but it's one that clearly affects a large number of people very directly and expensively, whether through having to replace a punctured tyre, make mechanical repairs, losing work or job opportunities caused by a damaged car being off the road or, worse, accident and injury. It seems that the government can only afford to allocate £50 million a year to tackling this nationwide problem while £121 million every week is lavished on the EU - even accounting for all the grants and subsidies we receive back.
Voting to leave the EU on 23 June and save £121 million a week for spending elsewhere offers a much better chance of taking bigger steps to solving this major problem of our poor quality roads.
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