Pothole Problem is a Direct Result of Conservative Funding Decisions

24 Mar 2024
A couple of pot holes in on a damaged road surface

In response to two questions at the 21st March 2024 meeting of Wokingham Borough Council, Cllr Paul Fishwick made it clear that responsibility for the poor condition of Wokingham’s roads lies with the Conservatives following their repeated funding cuts.

In their 2022 budget for Wokingham Borough, inherited by the Liberal Democrats, Wokingham Conservatives cut the council’s local road maintenance budget by 28%. Liberal Democrats have maintained funding at the level they inherited in cash terms but, with enormous pressure across the council’s budget, there is no scope to reverse the Tory cut.

In addition to the 2022 budget cut, the Conservative government has frozen government road maintenance grants at 2018 levels, despite a growing backlog of maintenance and record inflation. Across England and Wales there is now a backlog of £16.3 billion of road maintenance, of which around £16 million is in Wokingham Borough.

Executive Member for Active Travel, Transport and Highways, Cllr Paul Fishwick says:

“The council will always deliver on its statutory duty to ensure the roads are safe and repair serious defects when they are found. We have introduced innovations to reduce the rate at which surfaces deteriorate. Whilst it may not feel the case, our roads are above average for condition compared to other Councils’ and the borough is assessed independently as in the top 20 of Councils for maintenance work carried out on its road network.”

Responding to questions, Cllr Fishwick confirmed that the small amount of additional money provided by government in 2023 and 2024 is being spent on surfacing and structural repairs. However, the reality is that our roads are likely to still deteriorate faster than we can resurface them. In common with councils across the country, we will not be able to restore our roads to the condition we want until the government resets budgets for road maintenance to the required level.