Decline in funding for minor roads ‘costs economy £2 billion’

The decline in funding for minor roads cost the wider economy £2.04 billion in 2017, Cycling UK has claimed.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee inquiry on Local Roads Funding and Governance, Cycling UK policy director Roger Geffen MBE said that spending on minor roads, ‘B’, ‘C’ and unclassified roads, was continuing to decline despite overall increases by councils on road maintenance.

In 2009/10 the English highways authorities total spend on road maintenance was £4.19 billion, which declined in 2013/14 to £3.46 billion and increased to £3.63 billion in 2016/17.

Funding for minor roads was £2.51 billion eight years ago, 60 per cent of overall spend, and in 2016/17 £1.87 billion was spent, 51 per cent of the overall road maintenance budget.

The Transport Research Laboratory estimates for every £1 cut on local roads there is a wider economic cost of £1.67, which means the reduction has cost England £2.04 billion, or one fifth of what the Alarm survey estimates is needed to repair all the potholes in Britain.

Speaking after his appearance before the Transport Committee, Geffen said: “Good road maintenance is not just about spending money to save money, it’s also about saving lives and limbs.

“Cycling UK’s findings show that that cuts to maintenance budgets for local roads are a false economy, as this is where they most endanger pedestrians and cyclists.

“Pay-outs to cyclists for highway damages are typically 13 times higher than those made to drivers, mainly because they are more likely to involve injury rather than just property damage.

“When you add in the costs of injuries to the NHS and to employers, the case for local road maintenance becomes overwhelming.

“Yet the Government continues to boost spending on new motorways and trunk roads, while letting our existing local roads rot away.

“After several hard winters, it’s high time the Government reversed these skewed priorities.”

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