Osborne announces extra £333m for maintenance

05/12/2012
Highways Reporters

George Osborne confirmed an extra £333m spending on highways maintenance in his Autumn statement.

The chancellor promised the extra cash for "essential maintenance of our national and local road network to renew, repair and extend the life of our roads."

The maintenance money was part of a £1bn roads package including plans to:

• invest £378m to upgrade key sections of the A1 (Lobley Hill and Leeming to Barton) in the north east, bringing this route from the M25 to Newcastle up to motorway standard

• expand capacity through building a new link between the A5 and M1 in the east of England and dualling the A30 Temple to Carblake in the south west with an investment of £157m

• tackle congestion with £150m of investment for improvement works to Junction 30 of the M25 in London starting in 2015 and £10m, funded from within the Department for Transport’s existing budget, on improvement works at Junction 12 of the M40 in the west midlands starting in 2013;

• provide £270m for priority national and local projects to remove bottlenecks and support development

Paul Fleetham, Managing Director, Tarmac National Contracting said: “It is pleasing to see highways infrastructure spending move up the political agenda, but the Government must now use this momentum to set out a clear and long-term vision for both the strategic and local road network.

“While the Chancellor’s commitment to new road projects and additional funding for maintenance is welcome, it will not provide the adequate levels of funding to maintain our deteriorating road asset.

“It also remains unclear how much of the £333 million maintenance funding that councils will receive for the local network.

"Many local authorities are now operating with highways maintenance budgets that are up to 25 per cent less than four years ago, with the national annual maintenance shortfall now standing at £800 million.

“We appreciate that the Government faces tough spending decisions, but the public purse must provide more funding to help maintain our under-funded asset.

"The current reality is that revenues from fuel duty and road tax continue to exceed expenditure on roads by £30 billion per annum.”

CECA director of external affairs Alasdair Resiner said: “There is a real need to get activity going now in the infrastructure sector.

"CECA has been lobbying for additional funding for highways maintenance, based on the fact that activity can be increased almost immediately providing jobs and growth for communities across the UK.

"We estimate that today’s announcement has the potential to bring more than 3000 people out of unemployment and into the industry.

"This is very welcome news that recognises the vital contribution our sector will play in rebuilding growth in the economy”

Chairman of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), Alan Mackenzie said: “The AIA is pleased to see that the importance of road infrastructure has been acknowledged by measures to accelerate improvements in the strategic network.

"Ironically, £1 billion is the average annual shortfall in local authority maintenance budgets over the last decade.  So it’s disappointing that the Chancellor’s statement delivered no encouraging news about investing in the local road network, which represents 95% of the roads in the country and has one in five roads in poor condition.

"This is repair work that is ‘shovel ready’, could generate jobs, and help boost local economies which are badly affected by poor road condition.”

George Lee, national director of the RSMA said: “At last, the message is hitting home: safe, well-maintained roads are central to the UK’s future economic recovery.

"We know that high quality white lines are among the most cost-effective safety measure available. Any investment now will pay dividends for years to come.”

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