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Power to the potholes!

With the next leg of HS2 cancelled and the Autumn Statement fast approaching, motoring organisations have been busy banging the gong for more pothole repair funding.

On 23 October, the AA released its monthly pothole incident statistics, reporting that September 2023 had the highest number for that month since 2018 with AA patrols attending 47,223 incidents. The number of incidents has been climbing since September 2020 – a quiet year thanks to the Covid pandemic – and is 10% higher this September than in September 2022.

A few days earlier on 20 October, the RAC released its annual Report on Motoring, with its survey of motorists revealing that 49% of them rated the poor state of local roads as their top concern. In second place came the cost of fuel with the poor standard of others’ driving in third place. Older drivers – and voters - are even more vexed about potholes with 59% of those 65 and older putting poorly maintained roads as their number one beef.

Two-thirds (67%) of the drivers surveyed by the RAC said that they thought the conditions of the roads they drive on regularly had deteriorated over the past 12 months. Some 97% blamed poor surfaces with 61% citing faded road markings, 35% litter and 31% poor sign visibility. Just 4% thought local road conditions had improved over the last year.

Of course, prime minister Rishi Sunak is well aware of the political power of potholes. In March, as local elections began, he posed by one for photographs in Darlington. And after his announcement at the Tory party conference that the Manchester leg of HS2 was to be scrapped, news that £8.3bn of the funding saved would be spent on potholes was quickly released by the Department for Transport.

Depending on how that £8.3bn is allocated, it could make significant inroads into repairs. The Asphalt Industry Alliance’s 2023 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey report estimated that a one-time catch up on road maintenance would cost £14.02 billion and take 11 years to complete. A story in the Telegraph suggested that the £8.3bn will be provided over ten years and that it will be in addition to funding already announced.

All those responsible for local roads will be hoping that chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement sheds some more light on how the funding will be deployed. “We look forward to seeing more details on the recent £8.3 billion funding plan announced for roads maintenance in the upcoming Autumn Statement,” said the Local Government Association’s (LGA’s) transport spokesperson Cllr Darren Rodwell in the RAC’s press release about its motorist survey. Rodwell added that the Government should switch to five-year funding allocations, like those that National Highways received, in order to create certainty for local councils and allow better planning.

Thermal Road Repairs supports any moves that allow road authorities to plan their maintenance and repair spending more strategically. Without a sufficiently long-term view, or sufficient funding, councils are forced to spend too much money on reactive maintenance which delivers less value to the public purse overall.


Thermal Road Repairs: Decarbonising the asphalt repair industry.

High output. Low emission. Zero waste. Permanent solution.



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