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Roads need extra £8bn

Maintenance backlog leaves massive gap in funding as authorities let roads deteriorate

LOCAL roads in Britain need an £8.3 billion maintenance boost to bring them up to scratch.

That is the warning from the latest survey from the Institution of Civil Engineers released today (Thursday).

The survey shows that 75 per cent of local routes have deteriorated during the last year as the road maintenance backlog soared from £7.4 to £8.3 billion.

The figure represents £150 for every person in the country and continues to grow because local authorities are diverting maintenance cash into other areas.

John Sanders, chairman of the ICE municipal engineering board, said: 'At present, it is up to each local authority to decide how much of their allocated highways maintenance budget they spend accordingly.

'In some cases little more than half is currently used to address the deterioration.

'Road planners are frustrated by the 'patch and mend', shortterm sticking plaster mentality that provides temporary alleviation of symptoms, rather than long-term cure.'

The institution has been tracking the state of local roads and the maintenance backlog since 1996.

The backlog has increased every year since 1996, despite promises in the Government's 10-year Transport Plan, published in 2000, to halve the deterioration in local roads by 2004 and eliminate the maintenance backlog by 2010.

Mr Sanders said: 'We understand that local authorities have many other pressing demands on their budgets.

'However, road maintenance can only be ignored for so long before carriageways, footways, bridges and street lighting deteriorate beyond repair.

'Do we want to sit back and watch our local roads disintegrate into a network of potholed cart tracks? Are we happy to have streets in a state of constant disrepair?'

The ICE is now calling on the Government to ring-fence road repair funding and guarantee spending beyond elections.