The government said the annual grants were enough to fund the repair of 10 million potholes each year, although it is up to individual councils – which receive less than half their money for the repair and maintenance of roads from the government – how they spend it. Yet no sooner had Westminster given them the extra money last year than it reduced its contribution to councils’ roads maintenance budgets by £480m, virtually cancelling 2022’s share of the £2.5bn repair fund.
As a result – and together with rising maintenance costs, higher prices for bitumen now that Russia, once a major source, is banned from supplying it, and reductions in council spending – the outlook for the condition of UK roads bleakens.
This was compounded by reports of one pothole in Surrey being the cause of at least 12 vehicles experiencing burst tyres and damaged wheels in just one evening.
In its most recent survey, published last March, the Asphalt Industry Alliance – a trade body that campaigns for improved roads maintenance – reported the backlog for carriageway repairs had increased by 23% on 2021’s figure to £12.64bn. It blamed a lack of investment and an absence of long-term planning.
Rick Green, chair of the AIA, said: “The link between continued underinvestment and the ongoing structural decline and below-par surface conditions of our local roads is clear. To ensure we have a safe, resilient and sustainable network, a longer-term approach and significant investment is still needed.”