A nationwide programme of pothole repairs and road resurfacing projects, made possible by the first tranche of £8.3 billion in reallocated High Speed 2 (HS2) funding, has been revealed – with the first set of roads already having been resurfaced to make journeys by road safer, faster and smoother. 

Last November, the government announced unprecedented investment to tackle badly surfaced roads and pothole-ridden streets. Councils have already been paid £150 million to get on with the work and deliver improvements, with another £150 million following in this financial year.

As a condition of this funding, and to make sure money is being spent on pothole repairs, local authorities are required to publish a 2-year plan detailing exactly which local roads will benefit.

Today (10 April 2024), the Department for Transport has revealed 102 of the 119 authorities that received funding have responded to the department’s survey request to set out their plans, meaning local people can now check their local council’s websites and scrutinise their plans for themselves.

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Among the regions pledging to resurface the highest volume of roads are the West Midlands (600,000 square metres) and East Midlands (350,000 square metres), with plans outlined for problem spots across the country including the:

  • A43 at Towcester
  • A164 between Beverley and Hessle
  • A4146 at Leighton Buzzard

Residents in areas such as Southport and Sunderland have already seen major resurfacing work take place, thanks to the £150 million already invested as part of the road resurfacing funding allocations, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.

An initiative intending to bring increased transparency to how local councils deliver taxpayer-funded improvements, local people can now immediately see the benefits to their area made possible by reallocated HS2 funding, holding their local authority to account for delivering local road improvements.

The department has already been clear with those local authorities that have failed to publish reports that they could see the withdrawal of future funding to resurface roads. Local people are encouraged to check their authority websites and see which roads are planned to be maintained.

The £8.3 billion roads resurfacing funding demonstrates our commitment to improve local transport across the country and is the largest ever funding boost for local road improvements, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.

All of the £19.8 billion saved from the northern leg of HS2 will be reinvested in transport across the north, all of the £9.6 billion saved from the Midlands leg will be reinvested in transport across the Midlands, with the £6.5 billion saved through the new approach at Euston being spread across every other region in the country. Projects and improvements in the south and east of England are made possible by savings from Euston.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said:

We’re on the side of drivers, which is why this government is getting on with delivering our plan to invest an additional £8.3 billion in the biggest ever funding increase for local road improvements, made possible by reallocated HS2 funding.

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Alongside this unprecedented funding, which is already being used to improve local roads, we’re making sure local people can hold their local authority to account and see for themselves how the investment will be spent to improve local roads for years to come.

Having submitted their first reports last month, councils will now also be required to submit quarterly reports from June 2024, announcing work which has taken place over 3 months, meaning local people will now regularly be able to scrutinise the progress their local authority is making to tackle potholes.

For many councils, this may well be the first time they have reported their roads resurfacing plans in detail, so we would expect the overall quality of reporting from councils to improve over time and the department will keep the quality of their reporting under review in the interests of taxpayers.

The government’s long-term plan to improve local road networks across the country could save motorists up to £440 on vehicle repairs and is the biggest ever uplift in funding for local road improvements.

The reporting requirement has not only shown the areas which are planned to benefit but also highlighted how emerging techniques and equipment are being used by local authorities up and down the country to tackle potholes, including the use of durable carbon-neutral material in South Yorkshire, industry-leading ‘dragon patching’ equipment in Suffolk, innovative ‘pothole pro’ patching in Telford and Wrekin and artificial intelligence being used for highway inspections in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

This government is backing drivers, and alongside the unprecedented road maintenance funding, it is delivering for motorists through the Plan for Drivers, including ensuring traffic schemes like Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20mph speed limits have buy-in from local people, cutting congestion and accelerating the rollout of electric vehicle chargepoints.

Motorists will also be able to enjoy smoother journeys following the introduction of new measures to crack down on disruptive street works, with utility companies that allow works to overrun facing increased fines, which could generate up to £100 million extra to improve local roads.

RAC Head of Policy, Simon Williams, said:

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It’s very encouraging to see so many local authorities quickly setting out how they’ll use the first tranche of the government’s reallocated HS2 funding to improve their roads.

Drivers will be pleased to see potholes fixed and roads resurfaced, especially as our research shows the poor state of local carriageways is their number-one concern. We hope councils will also use this extra money to carry out vital surface dressing work which helps prevent cracking in the cold winter months by sealing roads against water ingress. The prime time for this life-extending work is between April and September, so time is of the essence.

Rick Green, Chair of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said:

The reallocated HS2 funding is a positive step, demonstrating the government recognises that maintaining local roads is about more than filling in potholes and without this investment – which ramps up in the years ahead – the situation could be even worse.

We have supported the need for transparency of funding allocations and the requirement for local authorities to report on the local roads to benefit will hopefully ensure the money is not diverted.