Winter’s icy chill did so much damage that councils in England and Wales face a £400m hole in their highways maintenance budgets according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA). That’s on top of existing maintenance under-funding to the tune of £800m.

According to the most recent ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey commissioned by the AIA, the number of potholes rose by a staggering 47 per cent in England last year. They were up by a suspension-shattering 53 per cent in London, but fell by 1.0 per cent in Wales. These figures do not include potholes in roads for which the Highways Agency has responsibility.

“Extreme winter weather would not cause so much damage if our roads were fit for purpose in the first place,” says AIA chairman, Mike Linley. “The consequences of an under-funded roads maintenance service are now writ large on our road network. They include compromised road safety and wasted time as road users are held up by unplanned road works.”

A lack of investment in new roads has been condemned by the Road Users’ Alliance (RUA). It calculates that congestion will rise by 37 per cent over the next 15 years if the current government policy of under-investment continues.

In the Budget Alistair Darling announced a £285m investment in the strategic road network to improve capacity. The government already spends £4bn a year on network improvements and £5.1bn on maintenance says the RUA but raises an astonishing £46.8bn in taxes annually from road users; more than five times as much as it spends on the highways.


Right click here to download PDF of the 2010 ALARM survey.