Yesterday’s Budget announcement of £420m to tackle Britain’s pothole crisis is a welcome move but the funds are merely a “drop in the ocean” to deal with a long-term and major issue.
So says IAM RoadSmart after the chancellor announced the cash injection for our beleaguered roads, alongside a £28.8bn fund to upgrade England’s motorways.
The funds include £25.5bn for Highways England for major road upgrades between 2020 and 2025 and an extra £3.5bn of funding allocated to major local routes, under the jurisdiction of local councils. The £420m for potholes is on top of an existing fund of almost £300m.
However, research carried out by the Asphalt Industry Alliance indicates a much bigger sum would be needed to get England’s roads fully functioning; the AIA has calculated that more than £8bn would be needed to carry out a one-time catch-up to bring local roads in England up to scratch.
And IAM Roadsmart also says the Budget pothole fund is not nearly enough for disillusioned drivers. The road safety charity carried out a survey three months ago of more than 7,000 of its members and found some 47% – more than 3,400 respondents – said they had experienced damage to their car, commercial vehicle, motorbike or bicycle or personal injury as a result of hitting a pothole.
Around 90% had spotted a deterioration of some level in the roads they use with just over 50% rating the state of their roads as ‘much worse’ in the past three years and 38% rating them ‘worse.’
Some 81% – close to 6,000 people – said they have noticed ‘many more’ potholes in the past three years; adding in the 13% who have seen ‘a few more’ gives a total of 94%.
More than 56% said they have to take avoiding action on every journey to dodge potholes, while 27% said they have to steer around a pothole every day.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “IAM RoadSmart welcomes the commitments to building more modern safe highways. What we really need to see however is the same long-term funding approach applied to potholes.
“Extra money is always welcome but when it arrives unpredictably for one year at a time it does little to help the long-term planning needed to really attack the pothole problems drivers and riders see and feel every day.”