Councils across Yorkshire are facing a £700m bill to repair the crumbling road network.
Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Yorkshire Post to the region’s councils have confirmed that vast swathes of Yorkshire’s 20,000-mile road network are in poor overall condition and require urgent maintenance within a year.
In Doncaster alone, £135m would have to be found in order to clear the town’s roads of potholes and cracks, and return highways to a state in which only “some deterioration is apparent”. The council currently spends less than £8m a year on road repairs.
In Hull, the money reserved by the city council for maintaining roads has been slashed by almost 15% since 2009, while in North Yorkshire it has decreased by more than 10%.
Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA said: “When it comes to it, we’re not talking about filling potholes – we’re talking about rebuilding whole roads. It takes a remarkably skilled operator not to just create more cracks when you are filling so many potholes.
“But if you want to shut roads to rebuild them, you’ve got the problem of where that traffic is going to go. People don’t want potholes but people don’t want closed roads either.”
Drivers in Sheffield have long complained about the state of their roads, and the city is confirmed today as having the largest repair bill in the region – £150m.
Sheffield Council is poised to sign off the country’s largest ever council project using the Private Finance Initiative, designed to bring every single main road and street up to a high standard by the end of the decade. Sheffield’s £2bn PFI deal includes a grant of almost £1bn from Whitehall.
Few councils can even estimate how much it would cost to bring their pavements up to an acceptable standard, but figures provided by a handful of authorities hint at the scale of the problem.
In North East Lincolnshire alone, the council said £39.5m would be needed to return pavements and footpaths to a reasonable state of repair.
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said the Government was doing its best to deal with the issue, and has allocated significant funds to authorities in Yorkshire for dealing with potholes.
“Despite the current severe fiscal restraints we are providing £3bn to English authorities for road maintenance between 2011 and 2015 – which includes £307m to authorities in Yorkshire,” he said.