Goverment announces £30m budget to repair Teesside’s roads

It has been revealed that councils across England are facing huge bills to fix a backlog of road repairs including fixing potholes.  Some councils have labelled their pothole problems ‘historic’. The backlog is due to a succession of severe winters in recent years, and a gap in the funding to keep up with the necessary repairs. Leeds City Council has the highest bill for repairs, of £100 million, followed by Gloucestershire, with £86 million. Other councils revealed that they had thousands of existing potholes still to fix, including Northumberland, which had approximately 6,600.

The news comes after the Department of Transport announced in December how the £4.7bn of funds allocated to repairing roads across England is to be divided. The budget is part of government plans to improve and bring up-to-date Britain’s transport infrastructure and is to be spread between 2015 and 2021. A Department for Transport spokesman said the six-year funding plan will provide councils “with the certainty they require to plan how they will keep their roads well maintained.”

The division of funds is based upon the size of highway networks in each area; only £30 million of the budget has been allocated to fixing roads in Teesside – the lowest amount given to any region. The £268 million given to the wider North East can be compared for example, to the £850 million that has been allocated to the South West area.

Labour Councillor Charlie Rooney was quoted in the Gazette as saying that: “The government’s highway maintenance funding is welcome and will of course be put to good use in improving the state of our roads.” He added however, that the funding, “will not scratch the surface – or if you like remove the scratches from the surface – of the pothole problem in Middlesbrough”. The funds have been criticised as still being too small to combat the problem effectively, due to the significant existing backlog across the UK.

Potholes on roads are caused by flood water and ice weakening the tarmac. Traffic passing over the damaged surface causes it to weaken further, and grow in severity. They can cause damage to cars when they pass over them, and be dangerous to drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. It is recommended that you report any potholes in the road to your local council if you spot them, so that they can be investigated and then fixed.

Councils across England regularly pay out compensation for damage to vehicles and injuries, costing them millions of pounds a year. There are typically more claims in areas that are liable to flood, and for an individual’s claim to be successful, it must be proven that the council was aware of the pothole, but that they had failed in their duty to repair it. Research by the Telegraph Newspaper found that there were 39,249 claims made against local authorities in 2013 for damage to vehicles or driver injuries. This was a significant rise from the 25,977 claims that were made in 2012, although the average pay out has fallen in the last few years, with motorists receiving £375 each on average for each claim. Comparatively, it costs local councils only £50 to repair each pothole.

Anthony McCarthy, Director Solicitor at Macks, says: “The additional money made available to repair potholes is welcome but it is unlikely to result in a significant improvement in the state of our roads given the backlog of repairs that exists.”


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