UK

Pothole repair funds allocated to councils in England

  • 23 December 2014
  • From the section UK
Pothole
Image caption The funding was first announced in June 2013

The money English councils will get to tackle potholes over the next six years has been revealed by the Department for Transport.

Nearly £6bn was allocated to the problem in June 2013. Tuesday's figures reveal how much individual highway authorities will get.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said it was enough to fix around 18 million potholes across the country.

The Local Government Association warned there was "a very long way to go".

The funding is designed to help local authorities tackle potholes and improve local roads between 2015 and 2021.

Mr McLoughlin said: "This huge investment is part of our long term economic plan to ensure we have a transport network fit for the 21st century."

Analysis by Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

The criticism often levelled at governments when it comes to road repairs is that they plump for the quick-fix rather than a long-term strategy.

For example, this government came to power vowing to take a pick-axe to road maintenance budgets, then ended up chucking large, emergency pots of cash at the problem every time flood water or ice opened up more potholes.

Now, ministers are promising more money and more certainty with a budget spread out over the next six years.

But a couple of caveats are needed here. Firstly, they're writing cheques for the next government, whoever that is - who might not want to stick to these budgets. Secondly, councils are not actually obliged to spend all the money on mending roads.

I'm told that local authorities have a good track record of allocating their roads money on actual repairs rather than diverting it to other causes. And if a council does spend its road repair money elsewhere it won't be able to bid for a share of the extra pots of cash being made available for new junctions, bridges, cycle paths and so on.

But it still means this budget isn't completely set in stone or asphalt.

Meanwhile, campaigners claim that it's not nearly enough to fix the repair backlog built up over recent, bad winters.

Just over £4.7bn of the cash will be shared between 115 English councils.

They will also be able to bid for a further £575m for the repair and maintenance of local highway infrastructure such as junctions, bridges and street lighting.

Some £578m has also been set side for an incentive scheme to reward councils who demonstrate they are delivering value for money in carrying out cost-effective improvements.

Commenting on these two additional funds the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils said: "The money should be given to councils directly to get on with the important job of fixing our roads."

'Significant gap'

Not all councils are included. Some have funding allocated through PFI initiatives, whilst London receives a block grant which is distributed by the mayor.

An LGA spokesman said: "While helpful, this new money does not bridge the overall funding gap which is increasing year on year. There is still a very long way to go to bring the nation's roads up to scratch."

The Institution of Civil Engineers said the money would be a "welcome boost".

But a spokesman added: "Given the one-time road maintenance 'catch up' cost has been estimated at £12bn this year, a significant gap will remain in local authority revenue budgets."

Michael Dugher, Labour's shadow transport secretary, said: "Local roads are in a desperate state under David Cameron. Over 2,220 miles more of our local roads now need maintenance work compared to 2010.

"Hard-pressed motorists and businesses are justifiably sick and tired of having their vehicles damaged because of Britain's pothole crises."

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