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Road maintenance in the UK reduced by nearly half over five years

By Mathilda Bartholomew | February 27, 2024

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The RAC has highlighted that last year, 35% of the 158 local authorities responsible for roads did not perform any resurfacing work, while 61% neglected preservation measures

Road maintenance in the UK reduced by nearly half over five years

In the fiscal year 2022/23, English councils repaired 3,366 fewer miles of tarmac compared to five years prior. Only 4% of A roads underwent any form of resurfacing or treatment, revealing a significant decline in road maintenance efforts.

RAC's analysis of government statistics showed a 37% reduction in the miles of A roads categorised as 'strengthened, resurfaced, or preserved.' This translated to 764 miles receiving attention, down from 1,222 miles five years ago.

For minor roads graded as B or C and unlisted roads, the figures were even more alarming, with works carried out on 3,380 miles last year compared to 6,288 miles five years ago—a staggering 46% decrease.

The RAC highlighted that 35% of the 158 local authorities responsible for roads did not perform any resurfacing work, while 61% neglected preservation measures. On average, each local authority resurfaced only 17 miles of tarmac in the past year, accompanied by 28 miles of preservation works.

Simon Williams, the head of policy at the RAC, emphasises that the statistics reveal the stark inadequacy of resurfacing and life-extending preservation efforts undertaken by councils. He deems the current situation a lamentable state of affairs, particularly for a nation heavily reliant on cars.

Williams expresses heightened concern over the minimal road maintenance on A roads last year, considering their extensive use by millions of drivers daily. He notes the striking contrast in neglect for minor roads crucial in connecting rural areas, describing their allocation of resources as "barely a crumb of the pie."

Referring to the RAC's Pothole Index, Williams points out that drivers are now almost twice as likely to encounter pothole-related damage compared to 2006. He criticises the government's £8.3bn injection plan as insufficient and reiterates the RAC's stance that funds from fuel duty should be specifically earmarked for road repairs.

Without adequate intervention, Williams warns that the longstanding road maintenance issue will persist, leading to the literal crumbling of more roads. He underscores that the longer this problem goes unaddressed, the larger the eventual financial burden on councils.

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