The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) has called for a number of commitments from the Government in order to ensure sufficient funding for road maintenance.
As part of the forthcoming comprehensive spending review the RSTA wants to see a real increase in maintenance investment that is part of the development of a long-term infrastructure strategy. In particular, there should be a ring-fenced maintenance fund that addresses the problem of local authorities not allocating full funding for road maintenance.
The road network is the backbone of the UK economy. It accounts for some 90% of all passenger journeys and 70% of freight movements. The local road network is of particular importance for the economy as the majority of freight journeys begin and end on local roads. Despite this the condition of the road network continues to deteriorate due to lack of real investment. It is estimated that the cost of the current backlog of necessary repairs is over £10 billion.
“The Chancellor has repeatedly stated his belief in the need for infrastructure investment but where road maintenance is concerned he has repeatedly failed to deliver,” says Howard Robinson (pictured), RSTA chief executive. “Local authorities need to have the correct levels of funding that enable them to carry out cost effective planned programmes of maintenance not expensive emergency patch-and-mend. This funding should be ring-fenced to ensure that it is spent on roads and the programmes of maintenance should be part of a long-term investment strategy.”
The economic need for maintenance investment is underlined by the cost of the deteriorating road network to small and medium-sized businesses.
The resulting reduced productivity, increased road consumption, vehicular damage and delayed deliveries are estimated to cost them £52 billion every year.
“The forthcoming spending reviews offer Chancellor George Osborne the opportunity to prove that he really does understand the relationship between economic growth and a well-maintained road network by prioritising proper levels of funding for road maintenance,” adds Robinson.