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A hole in the budget

There is a growing crisis on the roads of England and Wales: potholes. The state of our roads is getting worse, as anyone who has driven (or ridden a bike) on them recently can testify.

Serious damage

Research also backs up the feeling that many of us have that the situation is deteriorating. The physical damage caused by our vehicles hitting pot holes is taking its toll, and is reflected in recent figures from the RAC. Broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers and distorted wheels are exactly the kind of problems that are caused by bad road surfaces - and the number of times that the RAC are being called out to deal with issues like these is on the up. They dealt with 6,500 breakdowns which were likely caused by poor road surfaces in the first quarter of 2017 alone - up 63 per cent on 2016.

Room for improvement

“As a nation we still have a long way to go to ensure the whole road network – not just our major roads which are enjoying one of the largest investment programmes in a generation – is really fit for purpose,” RAC chief engineer David Bizley told i News. “Certainly anyone that has experienced a breakdown as a result of hitting a pothole will know just how frustrating that can be – not to say dangerous and expensive if damage to their vehicle is sustained.”

Squeezed budgets

Unfortunately for road users, the expense doesn’t stop there. A recent survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) paints a worrying picture - one in which local councils, already hard-pressed by budget cuts, are finding it hard to maintain the roads in their areas. The report - known as the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) revealed that one in six roads were in poor condition and would need to be repaired in the next five years. The survey also suggested that it would take 12 years and an eye-watering £12.06 billion of investment to repair the roads in England and Wales.

A slow process

Motoring organisations including the RAC are continuing to put pressure on central government to secure the funding to give us the roads we need, but it’s set to be a long - and bumpy - journey ahead.