Transport Committee launches inquiry into state of local roads in England

The Transport Committee has launched a new inquiry into the funding and governance of local roads in England.

According to the committee, local roads carry around two-thirds of motor traffic and comprise around 97% of the road network length in England, while the latest ALARM Survey found that the frequency of road re-surfacing has dropped from once every 55 years to once every 92 years across all classes of roads.

A recent study by the RAC, which publishes its pothole index every year, found that since 2006 when it began tracking figures of pothole-related damage, the issue has increased, with Quarter 2 of 2018 marking a fifth consecutive quarter of deterioration in the quality of roads.

Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, acknowledged the importance of local roads to the health of the economy and peoples’ day-to-day lives on announcement of the inquiry.

“This plague of potholes represents a major headache for all of us.

“The consequences of a deteriorating local road network are significant – undermining local economic performance and resulting in direct costs to motorists through damage to road vehicles.” – Lilian Greenwood MP

“The safety of other road users, particularly cyclists, is compromised.

“Our inquiry aims to investigate the situation in England, including current funding constraints and potential alternative models that could offer a solution.

“We know that this is a high priority issue among the public and I hope our inquiry will help put the onus on the Government to address it sooner rather than later,” Greenwood added.

More breakdowns

David Bizley, Chief Engineer at the RAC, welcomed the inquiry but called for more investment in roads and a new approach to tackling the problem.

“This inquiry will be welcomed by drivers who have to endure the dire state of our local roads on a daily basis.

“We know that more drivers are suffering breakdowns than 12 months ago – and potentially expensive damage – as a result of poor quality road surfaces.” – David Bizley

“But the reality is that potholes are dangerous to all road users, particularly cyclists.

“By 2020, major roads – motorways and major A roads – will benefit from ring-fenced funds as a result of the ring-fencing of vehicle excise duty for this purpose. It is vitally important, both in terms of keeping communities connected and for the long-term economic health of the country, that local roads are given similar priority.

“The current approach with inadequate central funding topped up by emergency funding for ‘pothole filling’ on a regular basis, is not sustainable. We need the same long-term strategic approach to fixing local roads that the government has implemented for maintaining and developing the strategic road network.

“We will be submitting evidence to the Transport Committee on behalf of our eight million members, not least our breakdown data which shows that in the first quarter of 2018 we saw the number of breakdown faults attributed to potholes was double compared to the same period in 2017 and drivers are now facing vehicle repair bills running into hundreds of million pounds,” Bizley said.

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