Councils warn over pothole repairs after winter weather

Pothole The depth of the winter weather affects the severity of the pothole problem

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Councils face a "huge struggle" to repair potholes caused by this winter's extreme weather, local government leaders in England have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said town halls would be hit by a £165m cut in the budget for road maintenance.

LGA transport chairman Peter Box said the weather had taken a "massive toll" on the roads at a time when councils were being made to scale back spending.

The government said it expected winter road maintenance to be made a priority.

'Working flat out'

The weather affects the severity of potholes as they are formed when water repeatedly freezes and expands in cracks in the road, and the resulting gaps can cause damage to vehicles.

Mr Box said: "Ensuring our roads are kept up to a safe standard for motorists is a priority for councils and we will be working flat out to repair as many potholes as we possibly can.

"The coldest December in 100 years will have taken a massive toll on our roads and this damage is coming at a time when councils are being made to scale back their highways maintenance budgets.

"Last year councils on average fixed one pothole every 33 seconds. With tens of millions of pounds being cut from road maintenance budgets this year it is going to be a huge struggle for already-stretched highways teams to keep up."

Further reductions

Local authorities received an extra £100m on top of the £871m Highways Maintenance Budget for 2010-11, and have repaired more than two million potholes.

However that additional money has been turned into a £65m cut from April, and there will be further reductions to £707m over the following three years.

Local transport minister Norman Baker said: "We know how important it is that local roads are well maintained. That is why, despite the need to make in-year budget reductions, we have protected day-to-day funding for local road maintenance this year.

"We will invest £3bn in maintenance over the next four years as well as spending £6bn to help local authorities make their road maintenance programmes as efficient and effective as possible.

"However, local councils should be managing their road maintenance throughout the year and in view of the last two winters we would expect winter maintenance to be a priority for them."

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