England

Councils in England face huge road repair bills

Pothole Image copyright PA
Image caption In December the government revealed how it would spend nearly £6bn on improving England's roads

Councils across England are facing bills of up to £100m to complete huge backlogs of road repairs.

Some of the costliest backlogs are in Leeds, where up to £100m is needed to complete the work, Gloucestershire, £86 million, and Islington £79m.

Details of the costs come after it was revealed how £6bn of government money will be spent on improving England's roads over the next six years.

Ministers, however, have been warned it is not enough to tackle the problem.

The scale of the problem caused by the poor state of the UK's roads has been revealed after Freedom of Information requests were made to local authorities in England.

Other councils facing huge repair bills include, Oldham, £60m, Rochdale, £58m, and Swindon, £40m.

Many councils said they did not have a backlog, while some said repairs were "historic" or described the cost as bringing their road network to a defect-free standard.

Some councils said they had thousands of potholes to repair, including 3,200 in Plymouth, 6,600 in Northumberland and 1,550 in Derbyshire.

'Shocking conditions'

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said funding for potholes was welcome but raised concerns over "whether this really goes far enough".

In April, the Asphalt Industry Alliance suggested a one-off investment of £12bn is needed in England to deal with the backlog in road maintenance, up from £10.5bn in 2013

Peter Box, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said: "While helpful, this new money does not bridge the overall funding gap which is increasing year on year."

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "Our members are repeatedly complaining to us that their vehicles are being damaged by the shocking condition of the roads.

"When you are a self-employed driver, if your taxi or truck is damaged and you can't work it means that you can't earn either."

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: "Recent hard winters combined with decades of underfunding have left Leeds with a significant road maintenance backlog of approximately £100m.

"Despite further funding recently being made available to tackle this problem which is welcome, it is not enough to see a dramatic turnaround in road conditions and will still mean we have to prioritise our work in the areas most in need."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Good local roads are vital for our transport network and it is for local councils to maintain them properly.

"This government has provided over £4.7bn since 2010 - an increase of £1bn compared with the previous parliament.

"As part of our long-term economic plan we will also spend a further £6bn between 2015 to 2021 providing councils with the certainty they require to plan how they will keep their roads well maintained."

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