Newly released Government statistics reveal that local authority spending on roads is at the lowest level for 10 years. The Department of Transport’s (DfT) figures show that in 2016-17, councils spent £1.87bn on maintaining B, C and unclassified roads.
This represents the lowest spend in a decade. For comparison, in 2004-05 total spend was £2.46bn. However, perhaps surprisingly, the DfT also say that the state of local authority maintained roads has improved gradually over the last five years.
Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Transport Spokesman said:
“The latest figures from the Department for Transport show the chronic need for more investment in local roads…Councils are doing what they can against a backlog of repairs on our local roads which currently stands at over £12bn and is estimated to take 14 years to fix.”
Explaining why councils may have chosen to reduce spending on roads, Cllr Tett said
“Facing ongoing budgetary pressures, councils regularly review their spending priorities in order to enable businesses and communities to connect with each other, meet the needs of their local economies and keep road users safe. However, in order to bring all roads up to scratch they need long-term and sustained investment from central government.”
On top of the DfT spending figures, analysis from the RAC Foundation has found that nearly 3,500 council maintained road bridges are ‘substandard.’
Of the 3,441 bridges in substandard condition, only 370 are expected to be improved in the next five years. The one-off cost of bringing all the substandard bridges back up to perfect condition would be around £934m.