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New Pothole Repair Cash Allocated

Could “the scourge of potholes” (as described by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak) be finally on its way out? Last November, the government announced that £8.3 billion would be handed out to local authorities over the next 11 years so that they could start fixing Britain’s battered roads. Funds for this pothole dividend were said to have resulted from the axing of part of the HS2 high speed rail project.

Only £150 million has so far been transferred, but nearly all local authorities (102 out of 119 allocated funding) have now submitted plans of what they will do with the money. The West and East Midlands, which will be receiving £2.2 billion over the 11 years, say they will be repairing 600,000 and 350,000 square metres respectively. The north west, north east and Yorkshire & Humber will receive £3.3 billion while the south and London get £2.8 billion. The cash will be spent resurfacing whole sections of roads as well as filling individual pot holes.

However, the Local Government Association thought that even this government pledge wouldn’t be a long-term solution, citing an overall maintenance backlog worth £14 billion, and asking for five-yearly allocations so that councils could plan for ongoing maintenance with certainty.

BMF Chair Jim Freeman welcomed the news of a fresh injection of funds to fight pot holes but questioned whether the government had really taken on board the need for a long-term plan. “ This is good news, obviously, but I’d remind everyone that its over 11 years, and informed sources point out that much of it is ‘back ended’ in Treasury speak, so don’t expect any magic fixes right now. That said it’s better than no commitments at all. Of course, any new government may decide differently, something the pothole campaign’s well aware of.”

Written by Peter Henshaw

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