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Local Government Association says 2017 could be ‘tipping point’ for the problem

New analysis indicates the repair bill for potholes could reach £14bn within two years, reports New Civil Engineer. To reverse the trend, the Local Government Association (LGA) is calling for the Government to inject a further £1bn a year into roads maintenance.

The LGA cites the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s (AIA), annual ALARM survey, which says the overall repair figure has grown from £9.8bn in 2012 to £11.8bn last year. It is projected to rise to £14bn by 2019.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, says such a figure would be more than three times councils' annual spending on highways and transport, which is currently £4.4bn.

Councillor Martin Tett, LGA Transport spokesman, said:

"This year could be a tipping point year regarding potholes, and councils, who have experienced significant budget reductions, now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14bn to bring the nation's roads up to scratch.

"It is wrong and unfair that the Government allocates almost 40 times more to maintaining national roads, which it controls, compared with local roads, which are overseen by councils. It is paramount this funding discrepancy is swiftly plugged.”

Tett says local authorities are trapped in a cycle where they are only ever able to patch up deteriorating roads.

"Councils share the frustration of motorists having to pay to drive on roads that are often inadequate. Our polling has shown that 83 per cent of the population would support a small amount of the existing billions they pay the Treasury each year in fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring our roads up to scratch.”

AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie agreed that more funding would be needed to tackle the maintenance backlog.

“The fact remains that our local road network receives only a fraction of the funding allocated to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) and this disparity needs to be tackled proactively if further decline is to be prevented,” he said.

In April, Cycling UK described a new £250m five-year Pothole Action Fund as being “the equivalent of using a sticking plaster to fix a broken leg” given the backlog of work to be carried out. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has since announced that there will be £70m to repair potholes for the financial year 2017/18.

Rochdale Online reports that Rochdale Borough Council has introduced a tougher policy on dealing with pothole compensation claims in a bid to reduce the amount of money being paid out. A freedom of information request revealed that £55,315.77 has been paid out since 2012.

In March, Perth and Kinross Council in Scotland proposed redefining the term “pothole” to include only holes deeper than 60mm, rather than the previous 40mm. The council estimated that this would save approximately £120,000 in annual repairs

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