A large pothole

UK roads left resembling ‘Swiss cheese’ after years of neglect

Image credit: Dreamstime

An annual study has found that one in six roads in England and Wales are in a detrimental condition, in dire need of repair.

The study by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has found that one in six (17 per cent) of local roads in both England and Wales are filled with potholes and in poor condition after years of neglect. 

AIA researchers warned that some of these decaying roads might have to be closed within the next few years, as they “will not be fit for purpose in five years’ time”. 

The AIA’s annual road maintenance survey said that these roads have decayed over time, due to a number of factors, including an ageing network, increased traffic, wet weather conditions and decades of inadequate funding. 

UK councils interviewed by the AIA said that they received £730 million pounds less than what they would have needed to ensure that all roads are in proper condition.

AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie said: “Local roads are failing and it’s time we had a rethink about how to adequately fund them in the future. Clearing the maintenance backlog remains impossible without a significant increase in funding.”

In Wales, the number of potholes filled by councils increased by 19 per cent last year, but in England it fell by 19 per cent. The situation is particularly critical in London, where the number of potholes filled by councils dropped by 43 per cent.

Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association (AA) said: “It is clear that the plague of potholes aren’t going to be filled any time soon. Even before getting to a main road drivers are using pothole-riddled roads, which they would be lucky to see resurfaced in their lifetime as it takes councils 87 years to get round to it.”

Under the current Parliament, the Department for Transport has provided £6 billion to improve roads and established a £50 million-a-year fund to fill potholes. 

Yet, according to the AIA survey, local authorities would need over £12 billion of funding to fix the roads and ensure they are back to an acceptable condition.

“The Government needs to confront the funding shortfall head on and help fund repairs and resurfacing work quicker,” said King. “If not, our streets will continue to resemble Swiss cheese rather than smooth highways.”

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