Public satisfaction with roads ‘at a record low’

25th September 2014

Cumbrian trunk route reopened at last (image credit: iStock/carloscastilla)

Motorists are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the state of the UK's roads, a prominent MP has stated.

According to Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, just 30 per cent of respondents to a recent survey were content with the condition of Britain's road surfaces, as well as the speed and quality of repair work.

This, she said, means public satisfaction with the country's highways is at its lowest level since the survey began six years ago.

Mrs Hodge attributed the situation partly to the Department for Transport's "unpredictable and fluctuating" road maintenance budgets and a "piecemeal and stop-go approach to funding".

She said this has made it difficult for highways authorities across Britain to manage roads in a cost-effective way.

Mrs Hodge also pointed out that much of the improvement work that takes place is reactive rather than proactive, even though carrying out preventative work to manage risks such as flooding is less expensive in the long-term.

"The Department must see that prevention is better than cure," she commented.

"It costs £52 to fill in a pothole, yet it costs over £30 million to pay and process compensation claims from road users for damages arising from poor road conditions."

Mrs Hodge said it is "ludicrous" that the Department for Transport reduced road maintenance budgets by £1.2 billion over the four years from April 2011, yet has poured in £1.1 billion worth of additional funding on various occasions following floods and winter damage to roads.

She acknowledged that factors such as winter weather are unpredictable, but said too much road maintenance is "inefficient because it is reactive and unplanned".

Local highways authorities were urged to concentrate on "anticipating, predicting and preventing" disrepair as much as possible.

Mrs Hodge added that routine maintenance is "essential to deal with increasingly frequent severe weather and to prevent long-term damage to infrastructure".