Roads to ruin

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The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey for 2017 is out today and the picture it paints about the state of local roads is a mixed one.

The ‘one time catch up cost’ i.e. the amount it would take to bring all roads up to scratch in one go, now stands at £12.06bn, up from £11.8bn last year. As the chart shows, the cost has remained stubbornly high.

ALARM-2017

This is despite local authorities reporting an increase in the amount they are spending on road maintenance this year.

Roads matter to manufacturers and local roads consistently top the list as the infrastructure network that is deteriorating the most. The state of local roads and public transport top the list of priority issues manufacturers feel should be tackled through devolution – over and above skills.

Devo-what-now-what-later

When it comes to local roads, the legacy of underinvestment and poor prioritisation is not making an impact on the overall backlog of repairs.

Today’s ALARM survey is a wakeup call to government and local authorities of the need to front load road maintenance spending and take a more strategic approach to repairs to arrest the decline in England’s most valuable infrastructure network.

EEF has been pressing for the government to allocate the roughly £1bn annual surplus expected from the Roads Fund that starts in 2020/21 to Devolution Deal areas to allow them to have the funding certainty that Highways England will have.

This would enable them to make the investments needed in repairing their local road networks.

Author

Head of Business Environment Policy

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