Nearly 200 miles of minor roads are '˜poor'
Almost 200 miles of Northumberland's minor roads and more than eight miles of its A-roads are in a poor condition, new figures have revealed.
They come from an analysis of eight years of public data from the Department for Transport (DfT), which publishes the percentage of the road network that is considered to be in a poor condition and needs maintenance.
Trunk roads managed by Highways England (such as the A1 in Northumberland) are not included.
The data shows that some three per cent of A-roads in England in 2016-17 were deemed to be in a poor condition, which works out at 549 miles of road.
But in general, the condition of England’s roads in local authority areas has been improving from 2009-10, with only 13 out of 151 local authority areas seeing an increase in the proportion of roads in poor condition from 2009/10 to 2016/17.
In Northumberland, the percentage of A-roads needing maintenance has fluctuated between three and four per cent during that period and the three per cent mark last year meant it was below the national average.
However, the county did surpass the national average when looking at the minor roads, with seven per cent - or 197.7 miles - of the B, C and U-roads requiring maintenance in 2016/17.
The average over the eight-year period from 2009/10 is 9.3 per cent.
Around five per cent of all the minor roads in England in 2016-17 were deemed to be in a poor condition. That works out at 8,960 miles of road.
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Only 10 local authority areas saw an increase in the proportion of roads deemed to be in a poor condition from 2009/10 to 2016/17 - Northumberland saw no change.
RAC spokesman Simon Williams commented: “Local roads across Britain are suffering from years of under-investment, which is why the RAC believes the Government, as a matter of urgency, needs to look at the issue from a long-term point of view.”
Of all England’s regions, the North East actually fares the best with the lowest percentage of the road network needing repairs - just over 2.2 per cent. The worst roads are in London - more than 5.5 per cent of the road network needs repairs.
The region did see the lowest public spending on its local roads in England between 2012/13 and 2016/17, although this was still more than £1billion. However, when divided by the population, the per head spending on local roads in the North East over that five-year period was higher than in the North West, the East and West Midlands and the South East.
Mr Williams said: “We calculate that if the Government was to ring-fence 5p a litre from existing fuel duty revenue, this could provide £11.8billion over five years. This would go a long way to fixing our roads as the one-off cost of bringing them back to a fit-for-purpose state has been independently estimated to be in the region of £12billion.”
A DfT spokesman said: “This Government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future and investing a record £23billion on our roads to improve journeys.
“We know that road surfaces are a concern for all road users and that is why we are providing local highway authorities in England with just under £6billion to help improve the condition of our local highway networks.
“We are also providing authorities with a record £296million through the pothole action fund, enough to fix just under six million potholes. This includes an additional £46million, as announced in December 2017, to help them repair potholes that may have formed over the winter.”