An annual independent study of local authority highways departments across England and Wales has been released by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) – a partnership between the Mineral Products Association (MPA) and Eurobitume UK.
Findings from the 2019 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey revealed that the budgets of local authorities’ highways maintenance teams increased for the second consecutive year, by approximately 20 per cent overall, which included a share of the £420 million of Government funding allocated in last year’s Autumn Budget.
However, the report has estimated that the one-off costs for bringing all local roads back into a reasonable, steady state has risen to almost £10 billion and would take up to 10 years to complete. Councils in England and Wales have also outlined that the shortfall between funding received and the total required to keep carriageways in reasonable condition was almost £657 million, with a substantial tenfold discrepancy between the best and worst funded programmes.
Paul Fleetham, managing director of Tarmac Contracting, said: “It’s encouraging that local authority highways budgets have increased for the second consecutive year.
“However, budgets remain tight and road maintenance continues to be a major issue for the UK. While local road networks remain the backbone of our regions’ economies, the one-time cost to return roads to a reasonable standard is extremely high at almost £10 billion.
“There is a clear opportunity to focus on a longer-term, proactive approach to local roads funding which recognises the social value of the local road network and supports the delivery of proper preventative and structural maintenance strategies for this vital asset.”
The AIA’s ALARM survey is widely respected as England and Wales’ most authoritative and comprehensive study into local road maintenance funding and condition. The 2019 survey can be accessed and read in full here: http://www.asphaltuk.org/