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Alarming new figures lay bare the shocking maintenance record of roads in Bedford

Department for Transport data shows just 10 miles of roads were maintained in 2021-22

Less than a dozen miles of roads in Bedford were maintained in 2021-22, new figures show.

It comes as the RAC has accused the Government of allowing road maintenance levels in England to decline, with fewer miles of road across the country surfaced or dressed than in any of the five years before.

The latest Department for Transport figures show 10.3 miles of roads in Bedford were fully resurfaced in 2021-22 – up from 7.1 miles five years before.

But no roads were surface dressed, where they are sprayed with a tar-like substance, before stone chippings are spread over the top and rolled in. It can extend a road's lifetime by 10 years.

In 2017-18, 18.7 miles of roads were resurfaced or dressed in the area.

Across England, just 1,123 miles of roads were resurfaced in 2021-22. This is a 29% fall on the 1,588 miles in 2017-18.

Similarly, surface dressing has fallen by 34% over the same period.

In the spring budget in March, the Government announced an extra £200 million would be invested in repairing England's potholes in 2023-24.

Of this, £662,800 will be given to Bedford.

But the RAC has urged the Government to increase investment in road protection, arguing potholes are a problem because of the worsening state of the roads.

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “These figures paint an incredibly stark picture of road maintenance in England and confirm our worst fears about the overall decline in the state of the country’s roads.

“While the Government has made more money available to authorities to fill potholes, it’s the general reduction in road improvement work that’s causing potholes to appear in the first place.

“It’s abundantly clear that councils in so many areas are barely scratching the surface when it comes to getting their roads up to a reasonable standard, and indeed the fact that such a large proportion haven’t done any surface dressing or resurfacing at all over a 12-month period really does say it all.

“We encourage local authorities to take a more preventative approach to road maintenance as this will make their squeezed budgets go further and improve England’s roads for the future.

“We also continue to call on the Government to increase the roads funding settlements for councils, not least because England’s major roads receive seven times what local roads are given, despite the fact there are seven times more miles of minor roads.”

A Bedford Borough Council spokesman said: “Bedford Borough Council continues to maintain all adopted roads and footways for which it is responsible. We complete cyclical programmes of inspections and when suitable intervention levels are reached we will carry out remedial works. These can range from pothole filling to complete reconstruction and resurfacing. We agree with the figures presented that show full resurfacing of roads in Bedford borough increased during 2021-22.

“Historically, due to the scale of our network, surface dressing has not been seen as cost effective as either full reconstruction or proactive or reactive filling of potholes. With a new administration now in place all areas of asset management and our approaches to keeping our footways and carriageways in as good condition as possible are under review.”

The Department for Transport said: “It’s for local authorities to maintain their highways, and to help them do that we’re investing more than £5 billion from 2020 to 2025, with an extra £200 million announced at the Budget in March, to resurface roads up and down the country.

“We’ve also brought in new rules to clamp down on utility companies leaving potholes behind after carrying out street works.”

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1 Comment

Kate Carpenter
Kate Carpenter
Sep 21, 2023

this is factually untrue. 'Maintained' includes drainage cleansing, pothole filling, lamp replacement, winter service, sign replacement, road markings etc. You mean 'resurfaced' I think, in which case please say so. We might expect the geenral media to use terms incorrectly, it's not acceptable for this forum, which is a specialist one, to use terms inaccurately.


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