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Fixing potholes is just the start

This morning, Labour made the headlines with a promise to fix a million potholes a year, with an additional £320m over five years, funded by pushing back the construction of the A27 Arundel bypass in Sussex.

Potholes have featured in the Conservative’s manifesto too. It has pledged to bring forward some of the £8.3bn it has already allocated to pothole repair.

This focus is not surprising. Potholes are an incredibly emotive subject for road users of all types.

However, voters need to know about the parties’ longer-term funding plans. The Local Government Association (LGA) has estimated that councils face a funding gap of £2.3 billion in 2025/26 and £3.9 billion in 2026/27 simply to maintain services at current levels.

In a white paper, published back in January 2024, the LGA also revealed that between 2010/11 and 2023/24 councils’ overall service budgets fell by just over 10% in real terms. Additionally, rising spends on adult and children’s services meant that budgets for Highways and Transport – as well as Planning, Housing and Cultural - were each reduced by more than 45%.

Decent roads are at the heart of well-functioning and equitable local communities. They are vital for getting people to work and school, transporting goods and products, travelling to health appointments and for accessing social activities.

Roads are also key to the green transition. To decrease carbon emissions, the GLA white paper calls for more public transport, more active travel and a faster move to electric vehicles from diesel and petrol ones. None of these things will be possible if upkeep of the local road network is not properly funded.

We could be moving so much faster down the road to decarbonisation. The LGA white paper calls for core funding to local councils for decarbonisation, rather than forcing them to fight for a multitude of small funding pots through competition after competition. Without a change of tack, 8 out of 10 councils have low confidence that the UK will achieve net zero for transport, homes and energy by 2050, according to the LGA.

Not only is this vital for councils, it is vital for SMEs such as Thermal Road Repairs too. We need certainty to be able to invest in innovating to cut carbon. For instance, our recent highway maintenance framework win with Manchester City Council will allow us to push faster on developing and deploying improvements to our technology and processes.

So, promises to fix potholes are just the start. If we want healthy local economies and communities, with local businesses driving our transition to a low-carbon future, local road networks need long-term funding certainty - just like our strategic road network.



Thermal Road Repairs: Decarbonising the asphalt repair industry

High out. Low emission. Zero waste. Permanent solution



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