Local roads across England and Wales are teetering on the brink of collapse due to the pervasive issue of potholes, states the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), indicating a critical situation that demands urgent attention. The latest findings from the AIA Alarm Survey paint a bleak picture, revealing that over half of the local road network in England and Wales faces potential failure within the next 15 years. This alarming forecast comes as the necessary funding to rectify the backlog of repairs skyrockets to a staggering £16.3 billion.

A deeper dive into the data uncovers a pressing reality: local authorities are anticipated to grapple with more than two million potholes in the current fiscal year alone. This marks a substantial 43 per cent increase compared to the preceding 12 months and represents the highest repair volume since the period of 2015-2016, when approximately 2.2 million potholes were addressed across England and Wales.

Presently, a mere 47 per cent of local roads maintain a state of 'good structural condition,' while over 107,000 miles of these roads have less than 15 years of structural integrity remaining.

"Local authorities find themselves with slightly more financial resources this year, but inflationary pressures have eroded their capacity to address the crisis effectively. When compounded by the increasingly frequent extreme weather events, the deterioration of local roads accelerates towards an inevitable breaking point," Rick Green, Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, commented.

"The findings from this report send the clearest signal yet to the Government of the critical state of so many of the roads used by millions every day," RAC head of policy Simon Williams added. “By the Government’s own admission, the extra £8.3 billion from the cancelled parts of HS2 is only sufficient to resurface around 5,000 miles of road, which is sadly just 3 per cent of all council-managed roads in England. With this report showing an estimated 107,000 miles of roads are fast reaching the end of their lives, the scale of the problem now facing councils is truly gargantuan."

A study conducted last year estimated that rectifying all potholes across England and Wales would command a price tag exceeding £14 billion. The AIA's annual report highlighted a stark reality: despite augmented budgets, local authority highway teams in England and Wales have only secured approximately two-thirds of the funding essential to stave off further deterioration in local road conditions. This number has grown to £16.3 billion over the last 12 months. 

Potholes and road infrastructure in general are also among the key focuses for over a fifth of voters in the UK before the general election this year. About 70 per cent of the respondents in a recent study cited the urgent need to address potholes as one of their top priorities.