Potholes a ‘£882million problem for region’ survey from Labour reveals

Cones - Photo Credit:freefoto.comPOTHOLES on the North East’s roads could cost at least £882million to repair after the recent bad winters, Labour has warned.

Nationally the road repair backlog could reach an estimated £13billion.

 

And the state of the roads is set to get even worse, with the survey of local authorities by Labour’s transport team also finding that nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of local councils are cutting road maintenance budgets as a result of the funding squeeze imposed by the Conservative-led government.

 

Many are set to pare back the repairs they agree to undertake so only more severe problems are fixed – enraging drivers further.

 

Responses were received from ten of the twelve local authorities in the North East with responsibility for highways maintenance in the North East region. Six of these authorities [South Tyneside, Newcastle, Durham, North Tyneside, Northumberland, Sunderland and Gateshead] are cutting their road maintenance budgets in cash terms; the remaining three [Stockton-on-Tees, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough] are all increasing their budgets by less than the current rate of inflation.

 

All but one of the responding councils in the region considered themselves to have a backlog of repairs.

 

Sunderland Council estimates their backlog to be of a value of £371 million, whilst both Durham Council and Gateshead Council consider their backlogs to be around £180 million.

 

In response to financial constraints, Sunderland has shifted its resources from resurfacing entire streets to making targeted repairs of potholes and Stockton-on-Tees has introduced a policy of ‘making safe’ road defects rather than conducting long-term repairs.

 

John Woodcock MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister said in response to the survey’s findings:

“Potholes frustrate road users more than anything and it’s clear that the Tory-led government has no serious long term plan to get our roads back into shape.

 

“These new figures reveal the worsening state of roads in the North as a result of the government’s cuts. Motorists and cyclists are already furious that Ministers have pretended to give councils in the North East extra money to repair potholes when all they’ve done is replace a fraction of the £432 million they had axed from road maintenance budgets.

 

 “Instead of continually patching up knackered road surfaces with a bucket of tar we need a proper strategic plan for the North East’s roads which could save tax-payers money a fortune in the long term. What is needed is a radical look at new funding models, councils working together and better engagement with the private sector to tackle this problem.”


In the nationwide survey, information was obtained from 111 local authorities, which represents 73 per cent of all authorities with highway maintenance responsibility in England.

 

The total repair backlog of the 40 per cent of authorities who were able to make estimates came to £5.36 billion. That would translate into a £13.4 billion across the country if roads in other areas were in a similar state of disrepair.

 

92 per cent of authorities who responded [102 out of 111 councils] reported having a backlog of road repairs which they did not currently have the budget to make good.

 

Seventeen local authorities reported individual backlogs of £100 million or more, with three county councils having backlogs in excess of £400 million [North Yorkshire, Kent and Devon], up to £450 million in the case of Devon County Council.

 

Figures received from local authorities show that a majority of those responding are, in cash terms, cutting the amount spent on road maintenance between the 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial years, and that almost three quarters are cutting in real terms [73 per cent].

 

A quarter of local authorities who responded reported that they have made, or are considering, changes to the levels at which they intervene to repair potholes and other road defects.

 

Responses to the survey were collected by Labour between March this year and now.

 

ENDS

 

Notes to editors:
A breakdown of responses from North East local authorities is detailed below:

 

Local Authority

2010/11 budget (£m)

2011/12 budget (£m)

Change 2010/11-11/12 (£m)

Change 2010/11-11/12 (%)

Backlog (£m)

Changes to prioritisation

South Tyneside

1.7

1.276

-0.424

-24.94%

Backlog, but no estimate

None

Newcastle

7.59

6.59

-1

-13.17%

 

None

Durham

11.31

10.14

-1.17

-10.34%

180

None, but considering

North Tyneside

2.929

2.699

-0.23

-7.85%

19.6

None

Northumberland

19.615

18.14

-1.475

-7.52%

70

None

Sunderland

2.42

2.359

-0.061

-2.52%

371

Prioritisation changed from full street resurfacing to targeted pothole repairs

Stockton-on-Tees

4.378

4.473

0.095

2.17%

13

Implemented a 'make safe' policy

Hartlepool

0.684

0.701

0.017

2.48%

20

None

Middlesbrough

4.153

4.325

0.172

4.14%

28.75

None

Gateshead

4.701

3.953

-0.748

-15.91%

180

Only defects that meet the absolute minimum intervention level are repaired; reduction to repair specification