'Use £1bn from fuel duty to fix potholes and bring roads up to scratch,' Government told

Councils say the money could come from existing duty

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The Independent Online

Councils are calling on the Government to invest another £1 billion a year into crumbling roads to get rid of potholes.

The Local Government Association (LGA) claims that 2 pence per litre of existing fuel duty could be put back into maintenance to get the funding.

The group, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, believes the measure could tackle the damage done to roads by recent harsh winters.

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said even with the money, it would take more than a decade to bring roads “up to scratch”.

He added: “Motorists pay billions to the Treasury each year in fuel duty when they fill up their car at the pumps, only to then have to drive on roads that are decaying after decades of underfunding.

“They deserve roads fit for the 21st Century.”

The LGA claimed that “underfunding” by successive Governments has seen a national backlog of repairs rise to £12 billion – up £1.5 billion in the past year.

With council budgets still stretched tightly, potholes and damaged roads are being “patched up” in smaller areas rather than being completely resurfaced.

Mr Box said: “Councils are fixing around 2 million potholes each year despite funding cuts and multi-million pound compensation costs for pothole damage but are trapped in an endless cycle of patching up our deteriorating network.

“This is leaving our country sleep-waking into a roads crisis.”

He said the Government's own traffic projections warned of a potential increase in local traffic of more than 40 per cent by 2040

A pothole fund of £168 million was offered to councils by the Government earlier this year in response to calls for help for road repairs.

A spokesman from the Department for Transport said more than three million potholes will be filled in by March next year as part of the biggest investment in roads since the 1970s.

The LGA is laying out its other proposals for the Government at its annual conference next week.