Cycling UK has described the government’s new Pothole Action Fund as being “the equivalent of using a sticking plaster to fix a broken leg.” The charity says that the money committed is woefully inadequate when there is an average of one pothole for every 110 metres of road in the UK.
The government recently announced a £250m ‘Pothole Action Fund’ to cover the next five years. It says that over 100 councils in England will receive a share of £50m in funding to address 943,000 potholes in local roads over the next 12 months.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I know how important well-maintained roads are to people across the country. Almost every journey starts and ends on a local road, so the government is giving councils £250 million specifically to tackle the blight of potholes in their area.”
Cycling UK says this amount of money doesn’t even come close to addressing the problem.
Campaigns Coordinator Sam Jones said: “The Asphalt Industry Alliance estimates we need £12bn to fix England and Wales’ roads: 240 times more than the £50m a year made available in the Government’s Pothole Action Fund. It’s the equivalent of using a sticking plaster to fix a broken leg.”
Jones went on to point out that it isn’t even additional money.
“The Pothole Action Fund is worth £250m over five years and is intended to fix more than four million potholes by 2020-21. Bearing in mind the average cost of filling a pothole is £56, there’s an average of one defect for every 110 metres of road in the UK, and there are over 245,000 miles of road, it simply isn’t enough money.
“It’s a typical smoke-and-mirrors exercise anyway, as this funding is coming out of the £6billion announced by the Coalition Government in December 2014 to tackle potholes on local authority roads.”
Cycling UK point out that poor road surfaces have a disproportionate impact on cyclists and says that around 12 per cent of legal claims handled by its incident line relate to poor maintenance. Potholes can also result in fatalities – earlier today we reported how an 83 year old man had died of head injuries a month after hitting a pothole as he cycled in Ramsbottom.
Cycling UK Policy Director, Roger Geffen MBE, said:
“The Government has allocated £6bn over the next five years to maintain England’s trunk roads and motorways, amounting to 2% of England’s road network, yet they are only giving councils another £6bn to maintain the remaining 98% of the network over the same period.
“What that means is that 80% of the roads for long-distance traffic will be fully resurfaced, while the council-controlled local roads used by pedestrians and cyclists for local journeys are left to rot and crumble. This will inevitably mean more deaths and injuries to cyclists, with councils being forced to make utterly wasteful compensation payouts instead of being able to repair our local road networks properly.”