Damaged local roads are becoming more dangerous after a slump in council spending, experts have warned. Analysis shows that one in six local roads – which account for about 60 per cent of the UK’s total road network – may need repairs.


From 2011 to last year, spending on minor roads fell by 23%, or £560million to £1.87billion. The Department for Transport’s Road Conditions in England report found the state of local authority-managed highways and other major roads has improved slowly over the last five years. However, 17% of minor unclassified roads – or one in six – should have been considered for maintenance for problems such as potholes or crumbling surfaces in that time.


There has been no improvement in unclassified roads since 2011/12, and the situation has actually worsened since 2010, when 15% should have been assessed for repairs. By contrast, annual local council spending on major roads such as motorways and A roads has risen by a fifth from 2011, to £1.43billion in 2016/17.


The figures have dismayed motoring campaigners. Edmund King, the AA’s president, said: ‘While spending on maintaining and improving the road surface on motorways and A-roads has increased, spending on local roads has decreased again.


‘Most journeys start and end on local roads, so while there is an argument to keep the fastest roads in good condition, we should not be neglecting local streets. Cost-cutting on UK roads has already contributed to 11 people losing their lives with the switching off of street lights. Potholes have contributed towards at least three cyclists losing their lives. A systemic downgrading of inspection and repair standards for potholes introduces a new level of potential lethality.’


The report also found that drivers are in danger of skidding on more than a quarter (27%) of local authority roads, because of crumbling surfaces. The risk of skidding is worst in London, where 48% of roads need further investigation.


Councils have complained they do not receive enough money from the Government for repairs. They fear the UK faces a ‘tipping point’ for tackling potholes, with analysis by the Local Government Association showing the bill for repairing roads in England and Wales could reach £14billion within two years. This is several times more than councils’ entire annual spending on highways and transport, which was £4.4billion in England in 2016. The Asphalt Industry Alliance says the amount needed to repair roads rose from £9.8billion in 2012 to £11.8billion last year.


Martin Tett, of the Local Government Association, said: ‘The latest figures from the Department for Transport show the chronic need for more investment in local roads.


‘Councils are doing what they can against a backlog of repairs on our local roads which currently stands at over £12billion and is estimated to take 14 years to fix.’


The Department for Transport has committed £6billion for English councils to improve local roads over the current Parliament, in addition to a £50million-a-year fund for tackling potholes. A spokesman said the statistics ‘show that our investment is making a difference’ for key roads.


Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5286855/Pothole-alert-spending-roads-cut-560million.html