Millions of pot holes will be filled in thanks to savings made from scrapping HS2’s Birmingham to Manchester leg.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper yesterday unveiled how £8.3 billion will be spent resurfacing more than 5,000 miles of local roads over the next eleven years.
The blueprint is part of Network North, which will plough the £36 billion earmarked for HS2’s northern leg into other transport projects.
Today, Mr Harper was asked whether much of the money would be spent on general road resurfacing rather than fixing individual potholes.
‘I think what drivers, cyclists and users of public transport care about is the quality of roads. They want roads to be free of potholes,’ he told BBC Breakfast.
‘This money will allow councils to fix individual potholes while also having the confidence to invest and improve their whole resurfacing programme so people see the quality of their local roads getting better.’
Potholes will be filled in using savings made from scrapping HS2’s Birmingham to Manchester leg
And asked on Sky News whether the funding was guaranteed to be ringfenced for potholes, he said: ‘We’re giving it to local authorities and we want to make sure they’re held accountable, so one of the other things we’re doing is making sure they have to be transparent about what they’re spending the money on.
‘Their local electorates can then hold them to account.’
Across England, local authorities will receive £150 million this financial year, followed by a further £150 million for 2024/2025, with the rest of the funding allocated through to 2034.
Town halls in the North West, North East and Yorkshire & Humber regions will get £3.3 billion over the period, £2.2 billion in the West Midlands and East Midlands and £2.8 billion in the East of England, South East and South West.
It comes on top of £5.5 billion of funding for fixing local roads between 2020 and 2025 and £200 million announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt in last year’s Autumn Statement.
Last night Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: ‘Well-maintained road surfaces could save drivers up to £440 each in expensive vehicle repairs, helping motorists keep more of the cash in their pocket.
‘This unprecedented £8.3 billion investment will pave the road for better and safer journeys for millions of people across the country and put an end to the blight of nuisance potholes.’
Mr Harper said: ‘Most people travel by road and potholes can cause misery for motorists, from expensive vehicle repairs to bumpy, slow, and dangerous journeys. Our £8.3 billion boost to repair roads across the country shows that we’re on the side of drivers.’
Industry body the Asphalt Industry Alliance this year estimated that fixing the backlog of potholes across England and Wales would cost £14 billion and take eleven years.
Around one in every nine miles of local road is now in ‘poor condition’.
Construction work for the HS2 railway taking place at Wendover Dean Viaduct in Buckinghamshire
The Daily Mail has been campaigning to end the nation’s pothole plague, which is costing drivers millions in repair bills and putting cyclists’ lives at risk.
AA president Edmund King said: ‘The £8.3 billion plan can make a considerable difference in bringing our roads back to the standards which road users expect, especially if councils use the cash efficiently to resurface our streets.
‘As well as safer roads, eliminating potholes gives confidence to people wanting to cycle, and instils pride of place within local communities.’
Councils are responsible for fixing pothole-ridden local roads, while National Highways manages motorways and major A roads. The average pothole costs around £50 to £70 to fill in.
Reacting to the fresh injection of funding for road maintenance, Cllr Darren Rodwell, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: ‘Councils want to invest in cost-effective and resilient resurfacing, rather than retrospectively dealing with potholes and this funding is a significant boost towards improving more of the 186,000 miles of England’s local roads.
‘The LGA has consistently called for longer-term funding to tackle our estimated £14billion local roads repair backlog.
‘This latest announcement will provide some much-needed clarity for councils on what they can expect to receive in the short term, so they can plan ahead and reinstate repairs that had been impacted by inflation.
‘We await to see the final details of the full allocation. It is vital that this plan, together with existing funding, is now ‘locked-in’ by the Chancellor at the Autumn Statement.
‘Longer-term, the Government should award council Highways Departments with five yearly funding allocations to give more certainty, bringing councils on a par with National Highways so they can develop resurfacing programmes and other highways improvements, tackling the scourge of potholes.’
IAM RoadSmart director of policy, Nicholas Lyes, added: ‘Potholes cause untold misery for drivers and riders and are a major road safety hazard that have caused thousands of injuries over the last five years. This is a welcome and sizeable amount of spending from the Government, and it should give local authorities the cash injection needed to bring road surfaces up to an adequate standard.
‘It may also be time to require local authorities to put up temporary signage to warn motorists of the rutted surface ahead.’
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