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Are Potholes a Political Issue?

By raccars Published

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As the dust settles after last month's general election, voters are waiting to see how the Conservative party majority will affect them. Election campaigns focused on immigration, welfare, the NHS and austerity, and very little was mentioned about transport and the needs of British drivers - even though this is an issue that affects every resident of the UK on a daily basis.

A survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, (IAM), in March revealed that potholes are a major concern for British road users and the biggest road networks issue they would like to see tackled. In fact, more than a third of British motorists said they would be happy to pay a higher charge for VED or road tax if they could see genuine improvements to their local roads. Eighty five per cent of survey participants believed that a higher percentage of the transport budget needs to be spent on local road network improvements.

The Conservative manifesto promised investment into local road improvements, designed to solve an 18 million strong pothole problem by 2021. An earlier 'Road Investment Strategy' provided £6 billion of funding to repair potholes but, in reality, barely scratched the surface of the problem although motorists will be impressed by further commitment. However, the scale of the problem means the project will outlast the current Conservative government term and could still be ongoing ten years from now.

The RAC has expressed concern about the amount of harm being done to British vehicles by potholes in the roads, particularly to alloy wheels. RAC call outs related to pothole damage increased by 67% from 2012-2013, including incidents requiring breakdown assistance. The breakdown recovery organisation is hoping that Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, will make a point of following through on roads investment promises made in his party's manifesto, which includes work to relieve traffic congestion on some of Britain's busiest roads.

However, the RAC warns that it is important that other road network issues are not neglected in the quest to repair potholes, naming neglected maintenance programmes and air quality improvements as other important issues. The organisation hopes that the government will focus in the short term on delivering its Roads Investment Strategy within its budget and on schedule. But it should also maintain the freeze on fuel duty, re-instate a target for reducing national road casualty rates and finally complete its green paper on young driver safety.

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