Senior highways figures in Lincolnshire have supported calls for greater government investment in road maintenance to end decades of ‘spiralling decline’.
Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for highways and transportation Coun Richard Davies says more money would be welcomed - though he has praised the government’s recent highways grant to the authority.
The comments follow the Local Government Association’s warning that without desperate action swathes of British roads could become unusable if hit by another severe winter.
“I support the LGA’s call for more funding but I think the government is helping to tackle the problem,” said Coun Davies.
“We were recently given an extra £6.5 million to spend on road maintenance which has meant we can expand our repair programme and permanently fix more potholes.
“Obviously we’d love to have a larger budget but there’s a finite amount of money available so we need to focus on driving value through our public services.”
The LGA, which represents more than 370 UK councils, says years of under-investment have left one in five roads in ‘poor condition’, frustrating motorists and undermining economic recovery.
Alongside the lack of adequate financing, the LGA also says recent flooding and harsh winters have caused a further £1 billion of damage to the nation’s roads.
With councils consistently having to spend twice what the Department for Transport provides in highways maintenance allocations, the LGA fears the arrangement is unsustainable in its current form.
It has written to Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, calling for greater capital funding for road maintenance.
The association claims this will save billions in the long term as the short term ‘reactive repairs’ are 20 times more expensive than a thorough resurfacing, which is resistant to floods and ice damage and also boosts jobs and growth in the short term.
The LGA’s economy and transport chairman Coun Peter Box said: “The case for proper funding to resurface our roads is a no brainer.
“The short-termist approach of successive Governments of underfunding local road maintenance, coupled with severe weather over recent years, has taken its toll.
“Now we’re facing unprecedented budget cuts things are only getting worse, something plain for all drivers to see.
“Despite their best efforts, many councils are trapped in a false economy of reactive repairs while managing a spiralling compensation bill, all the time praying it doesn’t flood or freeze.
“Government cutting funding for roads is a very high-risk strategy, as the longer you keep simply patching up a deteriorating surface the more vulnerable it becomes to severe weather.
“Unless something changes, we risk swathes of Britain’s road network becoming dangerously strewn with potholes or collapsing completely.
“Councils need increased and consistent funding to invest in the widespread resurfacing projects which our network desperately needs if we’re to see a long-term improvement.
“Notions that this can be paid for by council efficiency savings and smarter use of money are deeply unrealistic.
“We know we’re in very tough economic times, but there are several potential sources of funding Government could explore.
“Redirecting funding into road resurfacing would also offer an instant boost to growth. “Thousands of jobs in the construction and supply sector would be created immediately and there would be many mid-term economic benefits by reducing the cost to business caused by the current state of many roads.”