Local councils in Wales have been left facing an increasing highways repair bill, after recent flooding and freezing conditions combined to deliver widespread damage to Wales’ road network.
While work continues to quantify the extent of the damage done to Welsh roads, figures for 2011/12 reveal that even though the quality of the highways network in Wales had improved, 13.5% of roads were in ‘poor’ condition. This is largely attributable to the harsh winter conditions of 2010 that caused over £600 million of road damage across the UK.
The severe weather conditions more recently experienced in Wales are expected to add substantially to the estimated £170-200million road surface repair bill already faced by local councils.
Councillor Anthony Christopher (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Spokesperson for Roads, Infrastructure and Transport said:
“Local councils have recently faced a challenging period of severe climactic events, which saw flooding and freezing arctic conditions combining to effectively tear up large swathes of the nation’s road network. With the Environment Agency warning that the UK can expect such extreme conditions to increase in frequency in the future, keeping our road network open and in a decent state of repair will require a strategic and joined up approach.
“This has already been recognised by the Welsh Government who granted a much needed boost for highways improvement in Wales through the Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI), which saw an extra £60m of investment into the highways network during 2012-13. While the current scheme is due to finish in 2015, local government hopes that it will be extended further as this would ensure that an effective investment framework remains in place to allow a longer term approach to highways repair.
“Council Leaders and the Minister for Local Government, Communities and Transport have also recently agreed to examine opportunities for developing more collaborative approaches to the delivery of the complex array of planning, management and engineering considerations involved in developing and maintaining the highways network. By developing more effective, streamlined and cost efficient ways of working it is hoped that further savings can be ‘squeezed out’ of the system which can then be reinvested back into Wales’ road network.”