Councils criticise disparity in road funding

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Motorways and major trunk roads in England are receiving 52 times more government funding per mile than local roads maintained by councils, new figures show.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 349 English councils, conducted the analysis and urged the Government to reduce the disparity so its members can tackle the £12 billion repair bill to bring local roads up to scratch, including fixing more potholes.

It found that the Government plans to spend £1.1 million per mile to maintain its strategic road network between 2015 and 2020 but it will provide councils with just £21,000 per mile for local roads over the same period.

This is despite an increase in the number of cars travelling on local roads, average speeds falling and local roads making up 98% of England’s road network, according to the LGA.

However, the LGA wants the Government to be more ambitious and reinvest two pence per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance, which would be worth £1 billion a year.

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett called for “long-term and consistent” funding to allow councils to “embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed”.

He said: “Very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road.

“Spending 52 times more on improving our national roads will only speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads.

“Councils are fixing a pothole every 19 seconds despite funding pressures. They want to do more but are trapped in an endless cycle of patching up our deteriorating network.”

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “Residential streets are increasingly riddled with potholes and, even when they are filled, our roads look like patchwork quilts rather than the smooth highways we need to ensure safety for all road users.

“It is only right to start the long-term planning for how we fund upgrading and maintaining the local road network.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said it is investing £23 billion in roads, including over £6 billion to England’s local highways authorities outside London.

“This investment is making a real difference with fewer roads needing maintenance than 10 years ago,” he said.

“However, it is for these councils to manage their roads effectively and to identify where repairs should be undertaken.”

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