Britain's roads continue to crumble as report reveals £16.3 billion needed to tackle pothole blight

Motorcycle wheel crashing through pothole
Motorcycle wheel crashing through pothole

We all know that potholes are a problem on Britain’s roads, but a new survey looking into the state of the tarmac across England and Wales has found it would take 10 years and £16.3 billion of continuous work, just to fix routes controlled by local authorities.  

The figures represent an all-time high and have come from the Asphalt Industry Alliance, who launched their 29th Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey report on Tuesday 19 March 2024 – using data supplied by 72% of local authorities. 

Motorcyclist riding alongside potholed road

“It’s clear that there is still a mountain to climb when it comes to improving the condition of our local roads, which are a key asset on which we all rely, every day,” Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, Rick Green said.  

On top of this, the report revealed 53% of rural roads failed to meet the classification of ‘good’, meaning they have less than 15 years of usable life left in them. It also suggested local authorities would’ve needed a further £1,22 billion pounds spread across the countries, just to meet their own targets. 

“The Government has recognised that fixing our roads is about more than filling in potholes with its announcement of the additional Network North funding in England,” Green continued. “But, while the Transport Secretary stated that this additional £8.3 billion over 11 years is enough to resurface 5000 miles of local roads, this equates to just 2.5% of the network – or less than 0.25% per year.” 

Biker riding along damaged road

“We need to reach the point where local authority highway engineers are able to plan and proactively carry out maintenance work in the most timely and efficient way to the greatest benefit of all road users – rather than just having enough money to address immediate and urgent repairs.” 

Although the data shoes two million potholes were filled in throughout 2023 (a 40% increase over the previous year) the number of roads graded amber increased. Roads graded as Red and therefore needing immediate repair stayed somewhat consistent, with one in every 10 miles, or around 22,300 miles of our overall network expected to need life-extending repair work in the next 12 months.  

“The findings from this report send the clearest signal yet to the Government of the critical state of so many of the roads used by millions every day,” RAC Head of Policy, Simon Williams said. “The status quo is not sustainable. The longer the Government fails to grasp this reality, the bigger the eventual cost to the public purse. Only a commitment to introducing ring-fenced roads funding for councils will get them out of this dire mess. Without it, our roads will only get worse.” 

Notts Blood Bikes bent wheel after impacting pothole

The state of UK roads are now impacting motorcyclists, with Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes among the latest victims. Whilst out transporting new-born bloodspot samples to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, the team’s precious Yamaha FJR1300 sustained serious damage to its rear wheel.  

The incident caused delays in the sample transportation and therefore delayed the screening process intended to test new-borns for serious diseases.  

NBB Committee member James Chantler told MCN: “Potholes might seem like minor nuisances to most, but for motorbike riders, they can pose a serious danger. Not only do they disrupt smooth rides, but they also pose a significant risk of damage to our bikes and their riders.”