National roads will receive 52 times more Government funding per mile by 2020, compared to local roads maintained by councils, claims the the Local Government Association (LGA).
New analysis by the LGA suggests that the Government plans to spend £1.1 million per mile to maintain its strategic road network between 2015 and 2020. However, councils will receive just £21,000 per mile for the local roads they maintain over the same period.
This is despite an increase in the number of cars travelling on local roads, average speeds falling and local roads making up 98% of the country’s road network.
As a result, the LGA is calling for the Government to tackle the disparity in maintenance funding it provides for national and local roads, so that councils can tackle the £12 billion repair bill to bring local roads up to scratch.
“It is wrong that funding for local roads is miles behind that of the strategic road network,” said Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s transport spokesman. “Very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road.
“Spending 52 times more on improving our national roads will only serve to speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads.”
There are now 125 cars per mile on the nation’s roads compared to just 101 cars per mile in 2000. Councils say this is ratcheting up the pressure on local transport, causing congestion and road maintenance issues such as potholes, wear-down of road markings, and increasing general wear and tear.
Council leaders want the Government to deliver a radical new strategy to provide a fully-funded plan for the growing number of vehicles on the nation’s roads. This should include reinvesting 2 pence per litre of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance, which would generate £1bn a year for councils to spend on improving roads and filling potholes.
“Our local roads form vital arteries for our communities,” said Tett. “But with almost 30% more cars now on the nation’s roads than in 2000, they are under more pressure than ever before.
“Councils are fixing a pothole every 19 seconds despite funding pressures. They want to do more but are trapped in an endless cycle of patching up our deteriorating network. It would already take £12 billion and more than a decade for councils to clear the current local roads repair backlog.
“Only long-term and consistent investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed, to the benefit of motorists and cyclists up and down the country.”
The consultation proposes that 5,000 miles of ‘A’ road – more than 20 times the length of the UK’s longest motorway - are brought into scope for new funding from the National Roads Fund for upgrades and improvements.
Upgrade schemes which could be considered are bypasses, missing links between existing routes, road widening, major junction improvements and the use of technological and safety enhancements along stretches of the network.
Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Jenny Randerson said: “Much of the money being put into major roads is wasted if drivers hit a wall of congestion the moment they get into urban areas.
"There is no good reason why there is such a huge disparity between the money per mile allocated by the Government for major roads compared to local roads, other than the government's failure to trust local people to make local decisions."