Friday, 28 October 2016 22:38

Councils want fuel duty to repair roads

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Councils want fuel duty to repair roads

Local councils have called for money raised in fuel duty to help combat a growing backlog in road repairs – many of them in rural areas.

The amount of time it would take to fix the nation's roads has soared by almost a third in a decade, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

It would now take 14 years just to clear the backlog of road repairs, says the association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales.

This figure has surged from almost 11 years in 2006 to 14 years in 2016.

    See also: Patchy response to pothole fund

Councils fix almost two million potholes a year – an average of 12,000 potholes for each local authority, says the association.

Yet the average English authority faces a £69m estimated one-time cost to brings its roads up to a reasonable condition.

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett said: "It is becoming increasingly urgent to address the roads crisis we face as a nation."

It would now cost almost £12 billion to bring roads up to scratch, according to latest figures from the Asphalt Industry Alliance's (AIA) ALARM survey.

Councillor Tett said: "It could be nearly 2030, before we could bring them up to scratch and clear the current roads repair backlog."

To reverse this trend, the LGA is calling in its Autumn Statement submission for the Government to inject a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance.

This could be achieved by investing just 2p per litre of existing fuel duty. It stressed this should not be paid for by increasing fuel duty rates.

Previous LGA polling shows that 83% of people would support a small amount fuel duty being reinvested to help councils bring roads up to scratch.

This would help tackle damage done by recent harsh winters and decades of underfunding by successive governments, which has seen the national backlog of road repairs spiral.

The LGA points out that over the remaining years of the decade the Government will invest more than £1.1m per mile in maintaining national roads – which make up just 3% of all total roads.

It says this level of investment contrasts starkly with the £27,000 per mile investment in maintaining local roads, which are controlled by councils and make up 97% of England's road network.

The gulf in funding puts the country's businesses at a competitive disadvantage and provides poor value for money, argues the LGA.

Virtually every "national" journey starts and ends locally, which means the road network is not working for people in their corner of the country, it says.

Councillor Tett said: "Councils fixed a pothole every 15 seconds again last year despite significant budget reductions leaving them with less to spend on fixing our crumbling roads."

Local authorities were remarkably efficient in how they used a diminishing funding pot but were trapped in a cycle that would only ever leave them able to patch up deteriorating roads.

"Motorists pay billions to the Treasury each year in fuel duty when they fill up their car at the pumps only to then have to drive on roads that are decaying after decades of underfunding.

"They deserve roads fit for the 21st century."

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