Driving to become smoother, safer and easier with £734 million of redirected HS2 funding to resurface roads in the South East
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Today (Friday, November 17), Transport Secretary Mark Harper has set out the allocations of an £8.3 billion national long-term plan, enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of road across the country over the next 11 years. It’s one of the key cornerstones of Network North to improve journeys for all.
Local highway authorities in the South East, including in Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, East and West Sussex, will each receive a share of the £734 million which they can use to identify what local roads are in most need of repair and deliver immediate improvements for communities and residents.
Across the South East, local highway authorities will receive £23.4 million this financial year, followed by a further £23.4 million for 2024/2025, with the rest of the funding allocated through to 2034.
The Department for Transport (DfT) have already confirmed £5.5 billion for 2020/21 to 2024/25 for England outside London, which includes the £200 million announced by the Chancellor at the Budget in March.
Today’s £8.3 billion nationwide boost comes on top of that and extends until 2034, providing long-term certainty to local authorities and helping to prevent potholes from coming back in the future.
The funding also comes on top of the local transport, road and rail budgets allocated at the last Spending Review and in addition to what local authorities were already expecting for the next decade.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “For too long politicians have shied away from taking the right long-term decisions to make life easier for hardworking families - tackling the scourge of potholes being a prime example.
“Well-maintained road surfaces could save drivers up to £440 each in expensive vehicle repairs, helping motorists keep more of the cash in their pocket.
“This unprecedented £8.3 billion investment will pave the road for better and safer journeys for millions of people across the country and put an end to the blight of nuisance potholes.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Most people travel by road and potholes can cause misery for motorists, from expensive vehicle repairs to bumpy, slow, and dangerous journeys. Our £734 million boost to repair roads across the South East shows that we’re on the side of drivers.
“Today’s biggest ever funding uplift for local road improvements is a victory for all road users, who will enjoy smoother, faster and safer trips - as we use redirected HS2 funding to make the right long-term decisions for a brighter future.”
According to the RAC, smoother, well-maintained road surfaces could save drivers up to £440 each in expensive vehicle repairs from pothole damage, helping motorists keep more of the cash in their pocket.
This £734 million boost for the South East is particularly important when considering that, according to a survey from the AA, fixing potholes and investing in roads maintenance is a priority for 96% of drivers.
These funds can also help boost road safety and encourage active travel, as smoother road surfaces will make it safer and easier for cyclists to use roads with greater confidence.
RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “Drivers’ biggest bugbear of all is the poor condition of local roads, so the fact the Government has found a significant additional pot of revenue should give councils the certainty of funding they need to plan proper long-term road maintenance, something we have been calling for many years.
“We hope local authorities will use the money in the most effective way possible by resurfacing the very worst roads, keeping those in reasonable condition in better states for longer through surface dressing, and filling potholes as permanently as possible wherever necessary.
“This should in time go a considerable way to bringing our roads back to a fit-for-purpose state and saving drivers hundreds of pounds in the process from not having to fork out for frustrating repairs to their vehicles.”
To increase transparency and ensure the £8.3 billion leads to an increase in the number of roads being resurfaced, local authorities will be required to publish information on their websites on a regular basis explaining how they are spending the funding in their area.
The measure is a key part of the Government’s Network North plan, with money redirected from HS2, instead going to improve the daily transport connections that matter most to people.
The South East is benefitting from a share of a £6.5 billion package in Network North to boost local connectivity. Projects include £290 million to deliver 14 road schemes across the South East, such as the A259 between Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and the A2 at Brenley Corner, a notorious bottleneck on the corridor to Dover.
Matt Furniss, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Economic Growth at Surrey County Council said: “We welcome this funding to help repair and improve Surrey’s roads following an unprecedented increase in the number of potholes last winter.
“We have some of the country’s busiest roads here in Surrey, which naturally takes its toll, but we continue to invest over £200 million in maintaining our roads and pavements.
“This additional funding will allow us to prioritise areas in most need of repair and deliver further improvements to our highways network for everyone who travels through our county.
“As part of our preparations for this winter, we have invested in 38 brand new gritting vehicles and resurfaced 135 miles of roads and pavements to help keep Surrey moving.”
The funding builds on tough regulations announced in April this year to crack down on utility companies causing pothole pain with botched streetworks, through stricter inspections and costs for the worst offenders – backed by further measures in the DfT’s Plan for Drivers announced just last month.
These include £70 million to keep traffic flowing, updating 20mph zone guidance for England to help prevent inappropriate blanket use, and measures to speed up the rollout of electric vehicle charging.
Edmund King OBE, AA president, said: “Perilous roads blighted by potholes are the number one concern for drivers and a major issue for bikers, cyclists and pedestrians. So far this year The AA has attended more than 450,000 pothole related breakdowns. The damage caused can be a huge financial burden for drivers but is also a major safety risk for those on two wheels.
“The £8.3 billion plan can make a considerable difference in bringing our roads back to the standards which road users expect, especially if councils use the cash efficiently to resurface our streets. As well as safer roads, eliminating potholes gives confidence to people wanting to cycle and instils pride of place within local communities.”
Network North will see £36 billion invested in hundreds of transport projects and initiatives across the country, and includes the extension of the £2 bus fare cap in England to the end of December 2024, as well as over £1 billion to improve bus journeys in the North and the Midlands.
Rick Green, chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said: “This additional funding is good news for local authorities in England and is much needed to help them to tackle the backlog of repairs.
“We have long been calling for surety of funding over the long-term and the fact that the DfT has committed to this money being available over the next 11 years should allow highways teams to implement more efficient works to improve local road conditions and enhance the resilience of the network once they have details of their allocation.
“This long-term investment will also help give the asphalt supply chain confidence to further invest in plant upgrades, materials innovation and technical advancements to support the development and delivery of lower carbon roads, in line with the Government’s net zero ambitions.”