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UK road maintenance work slashed by almost half in five years

Council road repairs are down by 45 per cent compared to 2017/18, the latest data shows

Road resurfacing

English councils repaired 3,366 fewer miles of tarmac in 2022/23 than five years ago, with just 4 per cent of A roads getting any form of resurfacing or treatment in the financial year just gone. 

According to RAC analysis of latest government statistics, there was a 37 per cent drop in the miles of A roads listed as ‘strengthened, resurfaced or preserved’, which means 764 miles had works carried out compared to 1,222 miles five years ago.  

For minor roads listed as B or C grade and unlisted roads, there were works to 3,380 miles last year compared to 6,288 miles five years ago. That’s a decline of 46 per cent. 

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According to the RAC, 35 per cent of the 158 local authorities with roads responsibilities failed to carry out any resurfacing work at all, while 61 per cent failed to implement preservation measures. Over the last year, on average, local authorities each resurfaced only 17 miles of tarmac, while carrying out 28 miles of preservation works.

Road repair graphic

According to the RAC’s head of policy Simon Williams, the figures “lay bare just how little resurfacing and life-extending preservation works councils have managed to carry out”, adding that the new low point amounts to a sorry state of affairs for a nation that is so car-dependent.

“It’s especially concerning to see that so few miles of A roads received any form of road maintenance last year when these important routes are used by millions of drivers every day,” he says. “Meanwhile, our minor roads that are essential in connecting rural areas have received barely a crumb of the pie.” 

According to Williams, the RAC’s Pothole Index shows drivers are now almost twice as likely to suffer pothole-related damage while driving as they were in 2006. He says the government’s plan to inject £8.3bn isn’t nearly sufficient, and reiterated the RAC’s belief that cash from fuel duty should be ring-fenced for road repairs.

 “Otherwise, this serious, decades-long problem will continue, meaning more roads will literally crumble away,” he says. “The longer this is left unaddressed, the bigger the eventual bill for councils.”

Click here for our guide on how to claim pothole damage to your car...

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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