UK roads need £10bn to cure pothole crisis
If there were further cuts in maintenance funds or a severe winter "the impact on our already crumbling roads could be catastrophic" said a local government transport chief.
The Local Government Association (LGA), concerned at Government cuts and the current state of the roads, is now calling on Whitehall to free up money and invest it in resurfacing the current network.
The LGA said decades of underfunding, recent severe winters and widespread flooding earlier this year, "compounded by the current Government cutting £500m from roads maintenance budgets, means many councils are struggling to move beyond simply patching up a deteriorating network".
The authority added that should councils be stripped of even more funding in next month's Autumn Statement, many will find it nearly impossible to keep on top of road repairs.
Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and Transport Board, said: "It's estimated that it would now cost about £10bn to bring our roads up to scratch. Notions that the widespread resurfacing which is desperately needed can be paid for by efficiency savings and smarter use of money are pure fantasy.
"Unless something fundamentally changes, many councils will struggle to keep on top of repairs. Should they have their funding cut further or face another severe winter, the impact on our already crumbling roads could be catastrophic."
The LGA said the Department for Transport was reducing the highways maintenance budget it gives councils by £442m over the period 2009 to 2014.
It said that by 2014/15 councils will get £164m a year less than in 2010/11, a 19 per cent drop.
AA president Edmund King said: "We are extremely concerned about this warning. Potholes are a scourge for all road users, whatever means of transport they are using.
"Cyclists and motorcyclists risk serious injuries, motorists face financial loss and communities can be blighted by potholes."
Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "Despite the economic challenges we are facing, this Government is providing more than £3bn to councils across England for road maintenance between 2011 and 2015, demonstrating our commitment to maintaining our existing transport infrastructure.
"We also provided an additional £200 million in March 2011 to help repair local roads damaged by the severe winter weather in 2010.
"It is ultimately up to local highway authorities to determine how they prioritise their funding and the Department (for Transport) has simplified its funding streams to better enable them to do this."
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