Richard Yarrow’s opinion for www.startrescue.co.uk, providing low cost Breakdown Cover.
Welcome news this week that the Government is giving local councils more than £100million of extra funding to fix potholes. The blight of winter driving has got worse over the last couple of years, leading to more drivers stranded with buckled wheels and broken suspension components, and needing to call out their car breakdown operator.
And the good news is, to ensure councils are able to make use of this money as soon as possible, the funds will be distributed to local authorities based on the amount and condition of roads each is responsible for. It means they don’t have to waste time applying for it. All good news, then… until you read the small print.
The Department for Transport isn’t allocating the cash based on any kind of current need, ie, where there’s a pothole to be filled. That would be far too sensible. It’s dishing it out based on its existing road maintenance capital funding formula. This is called the Highways Condition Index (HCI) , and supposedly takes into account road length and state of repair. It’s based on data collected by specialist vehicles that scan the tarmac, plus manual inspections of certain roads.
I have two very big issues with this. Firstly, the vehicles don’t scan every inch of tarmac because that would be impossible. They do just a sample of them. Secondly, this isn’t work that’s been done in the last few weeks, when all the potholes have appeared. It was done last year, because the last HCI report was published a couple of weeks ago. I know, because I wrote an article about how – surprise, surprise – our roads are getting worse!
Surely it would make more sense for each council to be given a proportion of the available money based on its size and number of roads, and told to fill in the worse potholes? Under the current system you could have an area, such as the North East, which didn’t have a big problem when the scanning was done, but does now because of all the snow it had. Arrgghhhh!!!!
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