‘Rough ride’ for motorists as councils miss out on cash for pothole repairs

Pothole on the road near Bolton, Northumberland
Pothole on the road near Bolton, Northumberland

Motorists in Yorkshire have been given a ‘rough ride’ after councils missed out on almost £125m in government funding to repair pot-holed roads.

New figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal councils across the North have received on average 15 per cent less funding for road maintenance per head of population than their southern counterparts since the start of 2011/12.

As a whole, northern councils would have received an additional £124.5m over the past three years for repairing local roads had they received the same per capita funding as those in the South.

James Lewis, chairman of the West Yorkshire transport authority Metro, said: “This is another example of a significant North/South divide in government transport funding, and it is resulting in Yorkshire’s population getting what is literally a rougher ride – while for people in the south it’s a much smoother journey”

The DfT says road maintenance money is allocated using a complex formula based around the types of roads and bridges in each local authority area.

In total, northern councils received £736.9m for pothole repairs over the three-year period – equating to £51.24 per head of population. Councils in the South received £1.2bn over the same 
period, equating to £59.90 per head.

The only area excepted from the figures is the city of Sheffield, where council leaders recently signed an unprecedented £2bn PFI deal with a private contractor to overhaul and maintain 
the city’s roads for the years to come.

The deal was agreed under the previous Labour government.

The DfT insisted its formula is based on the “likely need” of each local area’s roads, but that it 
was now under review following the consultation with council chiefs.

A spokesman said: “We are investing just under £9bn in local road maintenance in England.

“We don’t allocate maintenance funding based on population but on likely need, based on road length and likely bridge and lighting repairs. If an authority has a larger highway network to maintain they will receive a higher proportion of funding.

“We are reviewing the funding.”