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Extra funding for roads welcomed, but much more needed

11 March 2014 #Aftermarket #Bus and Coach #CV Sector #News #Policy #Top Stories #Trailer #Truck #Van

More money is being made available to councils to help fix roads damaged by the severe weather, but the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and councils say the network is in need of much more than patch-up jobs.

The Department for Transport said an extra £140 million would be provided to councils, £36.5 million more for the roads worst hit by the weather and a further £103.5 million accessible by every local authority in the country.

While the FTA welcomed the additional money, it added, ‘with the possibility that we will see more occasions when severe weather will affect our road network, highway authorities must look at their whole life maintenance plans to build and maintain more reliable, resilient roads’.

Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy, said, “We have suffered from years of missed opportunities in highway maintenance and now is the time to take action to create resilience in the network – something that is vital to the economic future of the freight and logistics industry.”

The FTA pointed to the best practice guidance provided by the Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme, which produced a pothole review last July.

The Local Government Association, which represents the local authorities responsible for maintaining the majority of the UK’s road network, also welcomed the cash but said the total backlog bill for repairs and investment required was substantially greater.

Chair of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, Councillor Mike Jones said, “We do not yet know what the full bill for the cost of this winter’s devastating floods will be, but we expect it to be more than £140 million. Nevertheless, we are pleased the Government has recognised the need to provide funding for these extensive and costly repairs.

“Councils already face a substantial £10.5 billion shortfall to bring our roads up to scratch and this has been exacerbated by adverse weather which seems to be becoming increasingly common. There is an even greater need for increased and consistent funding over a number of years for the road network to recover, such as investing in widespread resurfacing projects. This money shows the Government has recognised the need to provide additional funding.”

A Daily Telegraph survey of local councils has also found that while the number of claims for compensation following damaged caused by potholes has increased, the number of payments and their average value has dropped.

With responses from about 75% of councils in the country, the survey found that 39,249 claims were made to local authorities in 2013 compared with  25,977 in 2012.

Only around a fifth of claims are successful, however, while the typical payout of £2,264 in 2011 dropped to £1,565 in 2012 and just £375 in 2013.

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