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Chancellor wraps up a Christmas pothole repair present?

By: Dave Robbins
04 December 2015

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to regular road users that two thirds of van and fleet car drivers have damaged their vehicle as a result of a close encounter with a pothole.
That’s what a survey conducted by ‘Fleet News’ has discovered. Another one, this time from the RAC, found that 10% of motorists regard the UK’s pothole problems as one of their top driving concerns.
So should we celebrate the 50% increase in transport capital spend announced by the Chancellor in his autumn statement with some Christmas cheer? Or, as Scrooge would have it, is it just a load of humbug?
Breaking the figures down, an additional £250m has been added to the rather unfortunately named, ‘Permanent Pothole Fund’. That’s in addition to the £6bn allotted to the fund in 2014 to cover the next five years. Sounds like a lot of money, but will it make potholes a thing of the past – or even more permanent?
With an estimated 18m potholes across Britain’s local roads in need of filling, that looks like an awful lot of tarmac. In fact even the Government admits that bringing local roads back to a ‘reasonable condition’ will cost £8.6bn, so even the non-mathematicians among us can see there’s something of a shortfall.
But, let’s have a bit of Christmas cheer. That money will certainly fill a fair number of holes and has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association who said: “it was good to see that the Chancellor recognised that road maintenance is important”.
Long-term, the RAC has suggested that the Government ring fence Vehicle Excise Duty to fund road maintenance from 2020. Probably mince pie in the sky. All of which means we’re still on pothole watch for the next four years.
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