Report shows fixing North East roads would cost £1 billion

Video report by Tom Barton

A new report says it would cost £1 billion to ensure North East roads are fixed up to be in reasonable conditions for road users.

The trade body The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) says it will take more than ten years to fix the repairs backlog in the region. It blames inconsistent funding from the government for local authorities.

Nationally, around 1.7 million potholes were filled during the year ending Wednesday, 31 March.

That is compared with 1.5 million during 2019/20, according to council responses to an annual survey by trade body the AIA.

The number of potholes filled by councils in England and Wales grew by 13% in the past 12 months, new figures show.

The report revealed that highway maintenance budgets have increased from an average of £20.7 million to £23.8 million year-on-year, partly due to additional UK Government funding to fix potholes and promote active travel in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

AIA chairman Rick Green welcomed the increase but warned that spending money to fill in potholes is "essentially a failure as it does nothing to improve the resilience of the network".

Mr Green called for the approach to funding local roads to match the five-year settlements awarded for motorways and major A roads.

This would allow local authority highway engineers to "plan ahead and implement a more proactive, sustainable and cost effective whole life approach to maintaining the network", he explained.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said the report "lays bare the pressure on local authorities who are grappling with crumbling road surfaces".

He described potholes as a "nuisance" which "not only cause expensive vehicle damage but can also lead to serious injury or even worse".

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at charity Cycling UK, claimed it is "bizarre" that governments "expect local authorities to maintain, repair and manage their local road network without the long-term funding allocated to other transport infrastructure".

David Renard, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities, said councils "have been working hard to repair our roads".

Key facts about roads in the North East 

In a statement the Department for Transport said the government was providing £2.5 billion to councils for road repairs over the next five years.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "This Government is providing £2.5 billion in funding over five years to help councils improve their roads, to ensure all road users have smoother, safer journeys."

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