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the disgraceful state of our road network

Some 10% of the road network maintained by local authorities in Great Britain is in poor condition, or has been flagged for further inspection, according to a report on the BBC.

About 37,000 kilometres (22,990 miles) across England, Wales and Scotland fell below standard in surveys carried out on behalf of the Department for Transport.

The government said it was investing £6bn in improving local roads.

The analysis by the BBC Shared Data Unit comes as a separate investigation by the Asphalt Industry Alliance found more than 39,300 kilometres (24,400 miles) of road had been identified as needing essential maintenance in the next year.

Simon Williams, a spokesman for the RAC, said: “Before the cold snap the condition of many local roads was on a knife edge with many councils struggling to fix our roads properly.

“But now, as a result of the ‘Beast from the East’ some local roads will have deteriorated even further, possibly to the point that they represent a serious risk to the safety of users.”

The BBC’s Shared Data Unit analysed the results of annual surveys, which measure the extent of defects such as bumpiness and cracking of the road surface.

In England and Wales, the survey measures the percentage of roads in a poor condition. In Scotland, it measures the percentage of roads in a poor condition, or requiring further inspection. Data was not available for Northern Ireland.


Some 3% (883km) of A-roads and 5% (14,420km) of minor roads across England in 2016-17 were deemed to be in a poor condition.

Over the past eight years, London and the South East were consistently the worst performing regions of the UK.

Thirteen out of 151 local authority areas saw an increase in the proportion of their road network deemed poor from 2009 to 2017.

They were York, Hartlepool, Wigan, West Sussex, Portsmouth, Stoke on Trent, Solihull, Barking and Dagenham, Kingston upon Thames, Bury, Stockport, Herefordshire and Manchester.

Julian Bell, who chairs London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “[We] recognise that road quality is an urgent concern and are committed to making improvements to the roads.”

However, he said present funding was not enough to meet the needs of London’s growing population.


Some 10% of all roads in Wales were deemed to be in poor condition in 2016-17. That works out at 3,110 kilometres (1,930 miles) of road.

All local authority areas bar Gwynedd saw the proportion of roads in a poor condition fall in the six-year period. The condition of Conwy’s roads remained roughly stable.

Some of the worst performing areas were Powys, Ceredigion and Wrexham.

A Welsh Local Government Association spokesman said there had been a downward trend in the proportion of roads deemed poor.

He said: “Clearly, local authorities would like to achieve a high standard on all the roads for which they are responsible.

“The network, as with many capital assets, experiences constant wear and tear and is exposed to a range of challenging weather conditions.”


In Scotland, some 30% of A-roads were either in a poor condition, or required further assessment. That works out at 2,220 kilometres (1,380 miles) of road.

Some 35% – or 16,500 kilometres of minor roads – were deemed in a poor condition, or earmarked for further inspection.

Some of the worst performing areas were Argyll and Bute, Eilean Siar, North Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Stirling.

According to the insurance firm, Admiral, claims for potholes and road defects in Scotland, were over two thirds higher in comparison to England.

Luke Bosdet, the AA’s public affairs spokesman, said: “The poor condition of Scottish roads comes as no surprise. It is a long-running problem, often illustrated by the views of AA members.”

A UK government Department for Transport spokesman said: “This government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future and investing a record £23bn on our roads to improve journeys.

“We know that road surfaces are a concern for all road users and that is why we are providing local highway authorities in England with just under £6bn to help improve the condition of our local highway networks.”

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Also this week, a study for Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive servicing and repair company, has found that over the last year, potholes have caused damage to vehicles costing a total of £915 million to repair.

This is an increase of 34% on the figure of £684m two years ago. The average cost of repairing damage to components including tyres, wheels, suspension and bodywork has risen only slightly – from £108.60 in 2016 to £111 this year. However, the number of drivers whose vehicles have suffered damage has skyrocketed over the past 24 months – from 6.3 million drivers a year to 8.2million – leading to the total bill for repairs increasing by £231m.

70% of drivers say they have hit at least one pothole a week over the past 12 months, with one-quarter (25%) hitting one every single day. Drivers in the north-west of the country have the worst experience, with over one-third (36%) of drivers suffering a pothole impact on a daily basis.

Drivers give a combination of factors as the reasons for hitting potholes. 88% of drivers cited road or weather conditions, such as the pothole being hidden by a puddle or it being too dark to spot, but many (47%) also said they had to make a deliberate decision to hit the pothole as avoiding it would have compromised their own safety, and that of other road users. Almost one in 10 drivers (9%) admitted that the impact was their own fault, as they were either not paying attention to the road surface or driving too fast to stop in time.

One-quarter of drivers who have hit potholes over the past year have suffered costly damage to their car, with the most common repairs being to tyres (4.2 million), wheels (2.7 million), suspension (2.4 million) and bodywork (1.2 million).

Drivers overwhelmingly believe that the nation’s roads are deteriorating, with 76% saying that the road surfaces on their most frequently made journeys are in a worse condition than five years ago, with 52% saying they are significantly worse. This mirrors the findings of the ALARM report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance, also published on Wednesday 21 March 2018, which reveals that one in five local roads is now classed as “structurally poor” – a 20% increase on last year.






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