The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has published results from its annual independent and comprehensive study into the maintenance funding and condition of local roads across England and Wales.
The 2021 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey has revealed that a legacy of inconsistent funding has been preventing local highways authorities from being able to deliver cost-effective and long-term maintenance and improvements.
Despite seeing a 15 per cent rise in maintenance budgets over the last 12 months, including additional revenue from the Government’s new Pothole Fund in England, the report shows overall budgets remain lower than they were two years ago – while the number of potholes filled in the same period has increased to an equivalent of one every 19 seconds.
It has been calculated that local authorities in England and Wales have seen the gap between funds received and the amount required to keep roads in reasonable condition reach £752.6 million – with the estimated catch-up cost for bringing all local roads up to a reasonable condition topping £10 billion.
Paul Fleetham, managing director of Tarmac Contracting, commented: “Well maintained local roads underpin our communities and economies, support improved social outcomes, whilst also being central to encouraging people to take greener forms of transport – and so getting these back up to a good standard is critical to “building back better”.
“The increase in highways maintenance budgets is a positive step in the right direction, however, it’s essential that this uptick in funding is met with longer-term commitments which will allow local authorities to deliver the most effective asset management approach to essential roads maintenance programmes.
“Enabling a properly funded, proactive approach to our highways will deliver the improvements that are needed to ensure that the local road network – which accounts for 98 per cent of our highways – is no longer treated as a second-class asset.”
Now in its 26th year, the AIA’s ALARM survey is widely considered to be the most authoritative study into local road maintenance funding and condition. Results from the 2021 survey can be read in full here.