Councils blame growing number of cars for worsening road conditions

Over 3.6 million new cars were registered between 2009 and 2019, contributing to congestion, poor road conditions and air quality

Pothole

Local councils have blamed a dramatic increase in the number of cars for the worsening condition of the country’s roads, as well as congestion and bad air quality.

An additional 3.6 million cars were registered in Great Britain between 2009 and 2019, according to the latest Department for Transport figures - an increase of 13 per cent. If these cars were lined up nose-to-tail, they would cover a distance of around 11,000 miles - equivalent to the entire British coastline.

This increase is a contributing factor in worsening road conditions, poor air quality, congestion and carbon emissions, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 339 councils in England.

The number of miles travelled on council-run roads rose 3.3 per cent each year between 2009 and 2017. During the same period, annual local authority expenditure on highways and road maintenance fell by 32 per cent, which the LGA says was a result of funding cuts and high demand for other public services, such as social care.

The LGA highlights that the Government spends 43 times more per mile on maintaining the Strategic Road Network - which comprises 4,500 miles of motorways and major A roads - than on local roads. Dealing with the backlog of repairs the latter requires would cost more than £9 billion over the course of a decade.

Ahead of this week’s Budget, the LGA is calling on the Government to reinvest 2p of existing fuel duty - equivalent to around £1 billion a year - in local roads maintenance to help tackle this backlog.

At present, there are 11 different ways of allocating money for roads, each with different rules, timescales and allocations processes. The LGA is also calling for councils to be provided with “stable, devolved infrastructure and public transport budgets”.

Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s transport spokesman, said: “The sheer volume of traffic on our roads has completely overtaken the amount councils are able to spend on local transport. Councils need long-term funding certainty and investment so they can create safe and attractive cycling and public transport networks, and deliver a more resilient roads network.

“With the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference later this year, next week’s Budget is an opportunity for the Government to demonstrate its commitment to tackling climate change and investment in reducing harmful emissions from transport, which is the single biggest contributor of carbon in the country.”

Do you think road conditions are getting worse in the UK? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below...

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