Poll: Would you pay more council tax to help eliminate potholes?

Councils have warned that 2017 could be a "tipping point" for tackling potholes. Are potholes a problem for you?


Analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) showed the bill for repairing roads in England and Wales could reach £14 billion within two years.

This is several times more than councils' entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport, which was £4.4 billion in England during 2016.

Statistics from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) show the amount needed to repair roads rose from £9.8 billion in 2012 to £11.8 billion last year.

To reverse this trend the LGA has called for the Government to inject a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance, which it claimed could be achieved by investing two pence per litre of existing fuel duty without increasing pump prices.

LGA transport spokesman Martin Tett said: "This year could be a tipping point year regarding potholes.

"Councils have experienced significant budget reductions and now face the looming prospect of a bill of £14 billion to bring the nation's roads up to scratch.

"It is wrong and unfair that the Government allocates almost 40 times more to maintaining national roads, which it controls, compared with local roads, which are overseen by councils. It is paramount this funding discrepancy is swiftly plugged."

He added that councils fixed a pothole every 15 seconds last year, but warned that funding cuts mean they are trapped in a "frustrating cycle" as they are only able to "patch up" roads.

AIA chairman Alan Mackenzie said: "Prolonged under-investment, coupled with wetter winters, increased traffic and an ageing network, means that the resilience of our local roads is at a low point.

"Clearing the maintenance backlog is impossible without a significant increase in funding."

The Department for Transport has committed £6 billion for English councils to improve local roads over the current Parliament, in addition to a £50 million-a-year fund specifically for tackling potholes.

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Comments for: "Poll: Would you pay more council tax to help eliminate potholes?"


i pay my road tax for this reason notmore tax ok suppose they stopped sending so much abroad that money should pay for things here


Foreign aid accounts for 0.7% of government spending. Stopping it and spending it onUK projects would make very little difference.

jim jams

As Tesco say, "Every little helps".


We have been neglecting our rural roads for far too long to think that few pennies here or there are going to make any difference. The funding of pot hole filling is traditionally by a dedicated grant from central government which has shrunk over the past six years but now looks to be rising again.

I truth this article could have been written at any time in the last fifty years. The main problem being that Shropshire has too many roads for the County to afford to maintain. Any funding formula will based on population or number of houses etc but will never reflect the problems of rural counties.

We have historically adopted too many roads so we need to abandon some of them and concentrate of the main network and get them right., then keep them right. we can then expand picking up the abandoned roads again.

We also need to consider the use of technology to make road sufaces more durable and resistent to ice damage and load stress cracking. It is something we have known about for decades but have not widely adopted. Recycling old tyres by grinding them up and using the sall pabbles of rubber to replace part of the aggregate. rubber was expensive as an addative in it's self but not if we consider the cost recycling tyres as sunk costs. The ideal fix is resurfacing with rubberised top coats but pot holes benefit as well. It we repair pot holes better with the right materials instead the repair breaking up the following winter it could last a few years instead. That would reduce the size of the ongoing problem. Rubberised top coats on resurfacing jobs would reduce the liability to future pot holes. Together the problem can be brought under control in the fullness of time.

I should add that rubberised surfaces are quieter in use and have better braking characteristics. so instead on the annual replacement of high resistance surfaces on roundabouts and traffic light approaches it would be better to resurface with rubberised tarmac with a longer life.

Extreme weather conditions are not going to go away. More rain and more frosts with differential expansion of road surfaces is going to carry on. So weather resistance is becoming more important.

In Shropshire we tend to simply contract out pot holes to the cheapest biddr with no particular specification on materials used. Then we set the contract in concrete for years ahead. We are about to re tender road repairs so have a golden opportunity to change the way we addrss the pot hole problem and future surfacing materials. it might be a little more expensive in the first instance but long term more than self financing.

I would object to putting up council tax to perpetuate pouring money down the drain. but I might be inclined to pay more for a proper long term solution. the real cost of pot holes falls on the motorist who's tyres and suspention fail earlier due continuous accelerated wear out. You can claim for a single event damage of single deep pot hole but not for the thousands of progressively damaging minor pot holes. To any motorist it is worth doing the job properly.

So yes pay more, but not for the existing state of poor repairs that last only months. Pay for proper job that lasts longer and does less damage to vehicles. No unless they change the repair regime and start resurfacing with weather resistant surfaces. I think most people know what a proper repair looks like and what a quick fix looks like. It is about repairing roads not Contractors making bigger profits.

If we need low quality quick jobs, we could use offenders on community service orders to do temporary jobs with a of bit Cold Asphalt but that would not be the permanent repair. Yes road gangs of convicts is perfectly acceptable to me. Hard work as a meaningful punishment with a public benefit. No special tools required. One supervisor/skilled road man and three offenders in a white van can go out and patrol roads fixing pot holes as they find them and reporting them for later proper repair. Systematically patrolling every road in the county. It will take a log time and the repairs would not last long but we would at least get a measure of what's required to do properly.



It isn't just rural roads. Take a look at Whitchurch Road from ABP to Tesco's. The upper surface of the road is falling apart. Shropshire Council has been fobbed off for years by road repairs which are little more than cosmetic. The practice has been to lay a bitumen layer and then cover it with fine gravel, hoping traffic would bed the gravel down. They have not been attending to road's substructure.

Take my road for example. I got a flyer through the door saying the council was going to refurbish the road. In the end, all they did was spray the road with black tar. This changed the colour of the road to black from grey but did nothing to fill cracks and holes. In the summer, Kerbsides are filled with weeds, which open cracks in the road surface. This is because the Council have stopped the annual weed killer treatment.

You have to remember that nearly all council funds are now directed at Social Care. Most other services, even statutory services, are being left to wither.


I have to agree with you that they are being taken for a ride. I suspect it is because the Council no longer employs people to look after their best interests. consultants and contractors are both interested only in profits so the consultants will not advise long term solutions that will effectively put them out of business and the Contractors will happliy do the minimum require by the contract to enable billing.

Tat and Chippings is a suitable restoration of very slow roads, but it is not lng term. better than doing nothing because it does fill the cracks in the rioad suface that habour water and create pot holes as the water freezes and aexpands. Straight forard sealing doesnot privide a non skid surface hence the gravel over treatment . Not suitable for fast roads because loose gravel is thrown into windscreens and breaks them.

Battlefield road looks wrorse than it is. They treat the surface with a high friction surface which improves braking on the approaches to the junctions. It is useless in durability terms. It is this top layer that is breaking up, as it does every year when the frosts come. It is a clasic example of current practice being waste of money for the best of reasons, to reduce accidents. however it is not the best or most durable solution. But does keep consultants and contractors in work at our expense. Rubberised tarmac would be beter if initially more expensive solution. All major roads like from the Battlefield island into town should so finished as continuous top coat. If you look at Heathgates Island it looks even worse but careful observation shows it is just the top coat that is failing as it always does. It's a short sighted penny wise pound foolish system applied by budgetary restraint and equally trying to do more with less in a given year.

It is massive subject area where the solutions are multiple choice, at multiple costs. Technology offers improved durability at increased costs which actually pay back over time. estates tend to have tar and gravel solutions but main roads have bonded top sufaces as laid with no lose gravel/. The rubbeise tarmac falls into the more expensives sealed surfaces which have the flexibility to stretch and restore preventing the cracking. If the road is properly made and water runs off instaed gathering in cracks there is no water to freeze and no cracks to be opened up and form pot holes. so no pot holes untill the suface is actually worn off. These are ideal conditions. The pot holes that afflict us are mainly on country roads and estate roads where the cracks can grow into pot holes. factors like drainage and light loads are factors.

Worst case scenarios are roads like Offey Lane from Battlefield to Bohmere Heath. The drainage is bad, the road is not flat and it's a country lane used heavily by both cares and HGVs. It suffers from ponding, puddles and weight stress. Overe the years this has been improved by better drainage, widening the road and using better surfaces but the bottom line is it breakes up because it's over used and under constructed. the pot holesare filled proptly and they look more like cracks. the cost to fix the road properly by leveling and straightening with a proper seal surface and good drainage is considered un-affordable. Probably correctly because the real solution is the North West Relief Road. But it is a good example of money being poured into it without achieving a solution.

We keep making he same mistake of development without infrastructure to serve the development until everything is so bad something has to done. Then they can't afford it.

tar and chippings is the right answer to your estate road today. you observations of battlefield Road are about top dressing not foundations but they are using the wrong solutions because of the cost barrier of doing it properly. Absence of knowledge and investment criteria on current account work.

And of course the one you have not mentioned the repair of pot holes and works access repairs. Doing the permanent repair initially instead of a temporary repair and not returning for the permanent reinstatement. You could write a book about the history of that. Same basic error, Penny wise and Pound foolish to not address the problem properly. Thinking is too short term.

K White

An interesting concept to use offenders to repair the roads, although it would have to be unclassified or at best infrequently used B road. I presume that only those considered suitable for open prisons or perhaps trustees of lower category establishments would be considered, that said other than Stoke Heath we don't have any within the county ( unless Mr Osborne's plan B comes to fruition).


I was thinking more of community service orders rather than inmates but inmates would do if they were trustees or on pre-release training. A matter of getting up in the mourning and going to work.

It meets my moral need of not stealing real jobs because these would be short term safety repairs pending a proper job done by people who earn a wage.


Right, so are you willing to pay for their protective clothing, safety training and the additional security needed? Who is going to supervise their work and ensure that it is up to legally required specifications?


The road gang would be One experenced and employed Council employee with a nuber of "Convicys". The Council spervisor would be doing the inspection report and repair schedule whilst the convicts are doing the tempory fix. Yes I would provide the safety equipment and protective clothing required which would recyled for numerous convicts to use.

Of course there is a cost but that is saved on the contractor who currently does temporary repairs. What ever costs are in this community work are in the Contractor's costs less labour.

Safety training is on the job and the responsibility of the supervisor. Particularly the road guarding manual. The use of only hand tools means this is a reduced requirement on plant training.

The job is not as difficult as you might imagine. Contractors would not be using skilled labour to carry it out, just a skilled foreman. It's the follow up job that is skilled. As an apprentice way back when. I was taught to temporary reinstate a hole on my first day on a gang. They did the clever bits and I did the hard work. A few rounds of not good enough, do this, and I was there. That was a hole in the A49 at Dorrington which I first had to dig. It is a day I will never forget, my first day of work as an apprentice. I went home aching but I had learnt something about roads and people, teams and what work means.

In those days the Utilities where not allowed to do permanent reinstatement, we had to pay the council to do that. It gave me the opportunity to see my temporary repair degrade to a pot hole before it was properly fixed. A good starting point to an Engineer. After being an apprentice I never had to dig or fill a hole again but if I asked someone else to, I knew what hard work meant and was respectful. That was fifty years ago so nothing has really changed has it.

jim jams

It works for road sweeping, how is pothole repairing any different?

R Suppards

I see the same potholes develop every year in the same place, so the quality of the repair work being done requires some attention.


Doesn't road/highway maintainence fall under the council tax umbrella?


....... to which the majority have contributed for donkey's years. Another Council scam


It comes within the councils scope of works so they can do as much as they like but there is a separate dedicated central government grant purely for pot holes and minor road repairs;

"The Department for Transport has committed £6 billion for English councils to improve local roads over the current Parliament, in addition to a £50 million-a-year fund specifically for tackling potholes".

It's peanuts but everything helps.


Many services used to have ring-fenced budgets and allocated funds in the revenue grant. Ring-fencing stopped in 2010. This means even statutory services are not receiving sufficient funding. I also suspect that in some areas where the council has a statutory duty to retain service provision, Shropshire Council is failing to allocate sufficient budget to meet their statutory duty.


Not all. Major trunk roads are paid for through general taxation.

The Council tax only makes up one part of a council's income. The rest comes from business rates, the revenue grant from government and fees and charges.

For nearly a decade, the Council tax has been either frozen or limited to below inflation rises. Some government money was allocated to those councils which froze their council tax but not enough to pay for services. Government has control of business rates. Councils collect rates but send them to central government where they are shared out. The government has now said councils can keep the business rates collected in their area but the government still sets the level of rates. This new policy means Shropshire's income from business rates will actually fall by about £40 million. George Osborne was trying to get rid of the revenue grant, the money councils received directly from central taxation. This used to be about half of the council's income now it is less than one quarter. Finally, councils look to put up fees and charges, such as parking charges or entrance to council facilities. They tend to get lambasted in the press from raising charges. Many council licences are fixed by statute. For example, it costs more in administration to issue a fireworks storage licence than the actual cost of the licence.

The council tax used to account for about a quarter of a council's income. Now it's over half of their income. Due to the drop in revenues and the increasing cost of social care some council services have seen 70% cuts. It is also estimated that to pay for social care properly, council tax would need to rise by a minimum of 16%

Councils have been at the forefront of government cuts. The state of our roads is one of the more visible indicators of the lack of funding councils now receive.

the fat controller

Where does it stop? Shrewsbury town council wants us to pay more Council Tax for youth services because, having taken over the service from Shropshire Council, Shropshire Council then cut the Town Council's funding for it.

Does this mean that every time the Town Council takes over the running of services (the library, the museum and the swimming pool have all been suggested), Shropshire Council will cut back funding and the people of Shrewsbury will see an increase in Council Tax?

I'm afraid the Town Council has set a dangerous precedent here.

And we mustn't forget that it isn't just government cuts (although that is disastrous for services) that have got Shropshire Council into this financial mess, it is a long-running saga of cock-ups and vanity projects at the expense of our services.


Answer yes, wherever they are provided, services must be paid for. The shift to Parish Councils is interesting (the Town Council is effectively a Parish Council). Unitary authorities are forced to hold a referendum if they want to raise council tax beyond 2%. Parish Councils do not need to hold a referendum. So in many areas, local authorities are passing services to parishes. I suspect Shrewsbury is one of the few 'parish' councils demanding that services ae transferred.

jim jams

Extra council tax wouldn't go towards road repairs just into the black hole labelled council wastage/vanity projects and shindigs.


True it would be an ideal chance for local councils to gert their grubby soiled hands on more of our money


The quality of workmanship need to improve. I have seen Council workmen repairing holes without the proper equipment. A tamper does not do the job, a roller does. Also, look at every manhole, they always sink...learn to put manholes in properly.

Tony in BC

We don't have problems at this time of year as the potholes are full of snow, so we are safe until end of March (at least). But as soon as it is spring-breakup we'll be bumping around and wishing we had those nice smooth highways that you folks take for granted - methinks your highways are amongst the very best in the world?

thomas the tank

Blimey, Tony, I used to believe you were well travelled. You haven't been back to Salopia, recently then, unless it had been raining and the holes were full of water, maybe?

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