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Environment Environment

Improve the quality of road surfaces

Last updated: 09:02am 16 January 2019

We will do more to improve the quality of road surfaces, filling potholes – especially in residential areas – and reducing road noise.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.25

Our verdict

Like train delays or traffic chaos caused by snow and ice, potholes on our roads is an issue that never seems far from the headlines. In March 2018, analysis by the BBC Shared Data Unit found that “10% of the road network maintained by local authorities in Great Britain is in poor condition, or has been flagged for further inspection”. This policy is a promise to “do more” to rectify that.

There is evidence of investment in road surfaces under this government. In December 2017, the Transport Minister Jesse Norman announced an extra £200 million for councils across the country to fix potholes and improve the quality of roads in general. He also said £151 million would be given to councils as a reward for “efficiently planning roads maintenance”.

In March 2018, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced £100 million for certain councils to help repair roads damaged by cold and storms.

Regarding road noise, in the financial year 2017/2018, Highways England spent £3.5 million on new noise barriers on the M40 in Buckinghamshire. However, we haven’t found any further evidence of efforts to reduce road noise.

The promise to “do more” implies an increase in the level of investment, or further initiatives to improve road surfaces, over and above what previously existed. Whilst there is evidence of ongoing investment and action, the latest available figures actually show a decline in road maintenance spending by councils.  Until we see statistical evidence of an improvement here, this policy will remain ‘in progress’. We’ll keep monitoring – follow this policy to see if we encounter any bumps in the road ahead!

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