Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Poor road repairs 'cost £435m'

Councils have spent around 435 million pounds on redoing poor roadworks in the past two years, according to the LGA

Poor repairs to roads dug up by utility companies have cost taxpayers £435 million over two years, the Local Government Association (LGA) has claimed.

The LGA said research showed 20% of works by contractors to resurface trenches were "not up to standard", meaning they had to be redone at the expense of councils - up 3% on 2011. It said £435 million could fill around eight million potholes.

Utility companies, business representatives and councils are to join a new taskforce which aims to cut the cost and disruption caused by roadworks.

The LGA says the taskforce's roles will include seeking ways to improve communication between contractors and businesses and help affected traders claim compensation where appropriate.

Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, said he hoped the new approach would keep disruption and frustration of motorists and traders to a minimum.

Mr Box said: "Most roadworks are essential and in many cases carried out efficiently and to a good standard. However, all too often the rush to get on to the next job leaves in its wake patches of shoddy resurfacing. Not only is the taxpayer left to foot the bill to do the resurfacing properly, it means needless frustration for motorists and thousands of pounds in lost trade for small businesses."

The LGA's claims are based on research by the Asphalt Industry Alliance's Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (Alarm) surveys, carried out among highways departments.

The Alarm 2013 report says local authorities outside London on average had 15,106 occasions - an increase from 13,408 in last year's report - where a utility company had dug up a road to carry out works. In London the figure was 11,198, up from 9,947 last year.

The Alarm report, published in March, adds: "On average 80% of utility openings are completed in accordance with legislation, although 20% are not completed to specification. It is estimated that 15% of the carriageway maintenance budget is spent on premature maintenance due to reinstatement of utility openings."

The LGA says its calculations suggest this amounts to councils spending around £435 million in the past two years on redoing roadworks.

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