Bill to make Norfolk’s roads as good as they were in 2007 would be £36.4m

PUBLISHED: 06:36 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 06:36 25 March 2020

Pot-holes are a perennial problem on Norfolk's roads. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY.

Pot-holes are a perennial problem on Norfolk's roads. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY.


It would cost more than £36m to bring Norfolk’s roads network up to the standards they were at more than a decade ago, council bosses have said.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure. Picture: Simon ParkinMartin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure. Picture: Simon Parkin

As a national report revealed the number of pot-holes repaired in England and Wales fell by a fifth in the past 12 months, Norfolk County Council said it would need to spend £36.4m to clear a backlog of maintenance and get roads up to the standard they were at in 2007.

Local authorities filled 1.5 million pot-holes in the 2019/20 financial year, compared with 1.9 million during the previous 12 months, according to the annual ALARM report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA).

AIA chairman Rick Green said highway maintenance budgets have dropped back to where they were two years ago after being given short-term cash injections.

“This stop-start approach has been wasteful and does nothing to improve the condition of the local road network on which we all rely,” he said. “In fact, it has just contributed to a rising bill to put things right.”

Norfolk County Council said it did not have the figures for how many pot-holes were reported and repaired in 2019/20. But in 2018/19, the council fixed 7,741 pot-holes, up on the 5,861 the previous year.

The council said that was mainly due to the Beast from the East, which brought wintry conditions in February and March 2018 and led to the government giving the authority more than £16m to make repairs.

Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “We have a responsibility for more than 6,000 miles of road in Norfolk and our priority is to invest the vast majority of our budget on proactive maintenance to prevent pot-holes occurring.

“But with such an extensive network of rural roads, high usage and when there is bad weather, it is an inevitability that they will occur.

“The number of pot-holes varies from year to year depending on weather conditions and we always strive to fill them as quickly as possible and our teams are out and about on a daily basis inspecting the highway, prioritising any pot-holes or other defects they find for repair.”

“Last November we were ranked to be 1st out of 28 county councils that participated in the 2019 National Highways and Transportation Survey which asked residents to express their satisfaction with their roads service.

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“This survey gives us a picture of how we compare to other councils across the country. For Norfolk to be in the top spot, both nationally, and in the eastern region, is very welcome and testament to the hard work of our teams.

“We always welcome additional investment and we estimate that bringing our roads network up to the level of 2007 would cost £36.4m”

The number of pot-holes repaired in England and Wales fell by a fifth in the past 12 months amid a decline in road maintenance budgets, new figures show.

David Renard, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) transport spokesman, said councils share motorists’ frustration about the state of local roads, and are fixing a pothole on average every 21 seconds despite growing financial pressures.

He went on: “It is clear that our roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than can be repaired by councils.”

The LGA is calling for local authorities to be given devolved infrastructure and public transport budgets to ensure a funding allocation in advance for five years.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £2.5bn of extra funding over the next five years to tackle potholes on England’s local roads in his Budget earlier this month.

AA president Edmund King warned this “won’t do the job”.

He added: “With roads being resurfaced on average once every 76 years, we’d recommend lucky residents celebrate the moment as it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Given the huge coronavirus spending pressures the Chancellor is facing, now doesn’t feel like the right moment to demand a further boost on road funding.

“But looking further ahead to the post-coronavirus period, and the likely need to stimulate a deadened economy, this report should prompt Government to consider committing to an ambitious maintenance initiative for the most important local roads.”

MORE: Call for council to go easier over pot-hole compensation claims

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