Repairing road network a priority for UK industry

Posted on 23 Mar 2016 by Jonny Williamson

UK manufacturers are calling for Local Authorities to increase their spending on, and prioritise maintenance of, England’s road network.

The call from EEF comes on the back of the annual ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey by the Asphalt Industries Alliance showing the ‘one time catch up cost’ to bring England’s entire road network up to scratch now stands at £11.8bn, compared to £8.5bn in 2009.

EEF’s own evidence highlights the priority attached to the road network with its most recent survey showing the state of local transport is rated by manufacturers as the number one challenge (38% of companies) that local decision makers need to tackle in the local business environment.

The same survey also showed manufacturers rate the local road network as their third highest priority for investment across all infrastructure networks, behind the motorway network and broadband; while companies said the condition of local roads was cited as the network that had deteriorated the most in the past two years, with 35% of manufacturers saying it had become worse.

In response, EEF is calling for the following:

  • Local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships, recently empowered through devolution and future growth in business rates, should increase their spending and prioritise maintenance of the A-Road network
  • From 2020/21 any surplus in England’s Roads Fund should be diverted to newly created Mayors as a transport capital budget. In 2020/21 the new Roads Fund, which is currently earmarked for just the motorway network, will have a £1bn surplus against budgeted spending.

Lee Hopley, chief economist, EEF.
Lee Hopley, chief economist, EEF.

EEF chief economist, Lee Hopley commented: “Reliable and resilient local roads are a key enabler for more productive local economies, and today’s figures show a damaged network with a repair cost that is still stubbornly high.

“The damage done in previous years to England’s road network means investment in planned maintenance must step up a gear now or risk costing more in the future.

“Local authorities and LEPs must focus their efforts on repairing the network as a down payment on business support for devolution. Government should also ensure the forecasted £1bn surplus in the Roads Fund in 2020/21 is given to new Mayors to provide the step change in investment needed to stop the crumbling of England’s road network.”