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Roads to Nowhere

Transport and business groups unite to call for new road repair fund

5 November 2012
Small business and construction industry groups have joined a transport charity to call for funds to repair millions of ‘shovel-ready’ potholes on local roads.

The groups have written a joint letter to the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin[1], pointing out benefits of this approach for the economy, drivers and other roads users, and asking that funding repairs should be made a priority. The groups are asking for a temporary boost to local authority road maintenance budgets to be announced as part of this year’s Autumn Statement, expected in early December.

The letter points to the current £9 billion backlog of road maintenance work[2] and says: “A temporary ‘Road Repair and Renewal’ fund for local roads could help to address the deficit in local road maintenance and pay for some of these wider enhancements, with considerable gains for transport and the economy as a whole.”

The letter also highlights the higher economic stimulus and job creation value of maintenance over new building, and the lack of opposition compared with new road building across green fields.  Citing evidence from the 2010 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in the United States, the groups show that repair and maintenance work created 70% more job hours than the same investment spent on new roads.[3]

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport said:

“Much-needed road repairs are the very definition of shovel-ready transport projects. New funds for local road repairs wouldn’t just help local economies and businesses by providing work. They could also be used to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians too.”

Neil Hoose, Infrastructure Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“The vast majority of small firms rely on their car or van to run their business. Yet 60 per cent of our members have said that congestion and the state of repair of roads has a negative impact on their business. By putting this proposed ‘Road Repair and Renewal’ fund in place to fix local roads, significant costs to small businesses will be reduced and there will be better opportunity for growth.”

Diana Montgomery, Chief Executive of the Construction Products Association said:

“The government has been calling for immediate shovel-ready infrastructure projects to help boost the economic recovery. One area of work that fits this is the much needed repair and maintenance of our road system. We know there is a huge backlog of road repair work that needs doing and this will provide construction activity across all regions of the country.  Not only that, much of this work can start immediately as it doesn’t need planning approval.  Investment from the government for this would also provide enormous confidence to attract private funding for longer term projects.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. The letter was sent to Ministers in the Department of Transport and Treasury on 1st November. A copy is available on the Campaign for Better Transport website.

2. Figures from the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey (Asphalt Industry Alliance) 2011.

3. Figures from Transportation Funding and Job Creation. Smart Growth America, February 2011.

4. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).