Councillors Natalia and Frank Letch have launched a petition to get the A377 at Copplestone resurfaced by Devon County Council
Fixing Devon's ailing roads should have been a top call on money released from cancelling the next leg of the HS2 project, says Devon County Councillor Alan Connett.
He has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak highlighting the plight of Devon's highways from potholes, damaged surfaces and faded white lines, calling for £250 million urgently for the county's roads.
"We urgently need money spent on repairing Devon's roads, fixing the potholes, restoring the white lines and a real programme of repairs and maintenance," said Cllr Connett, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Exminster and Haldon.
The Prime Minister has promised over £41 billion for the Midlands and the North on special projects in those regions but just £6.5billion for the rest of the country including some rail improvement in the south west, said Cllr Connett.
Here in Devon, the County Council estimates the spending required to bring the most deteriorated road surfaces into good condition is £167 million along with £55 million a year to prevent further deterioration to the structure of Devon’s highway network.
He added: "We're being short-changed once again here in Devon by the Conservatives. The decision to re-allocate the HS2 money was an ideal opportunity to properly fund fixing Devon's roads. It is such a missed opportunity."
Devon County Council figures show 34,199 holes were recorded in the 11 months of 2022/23, compared to 44,263 the previous year. Almost 7,400 were recorded in January.
In a freedom of information response in March this year, the council said that on 13th February there were 1,883 pothole defects with the council contractor waiting for repair and between April 2021 and December last year £147,776 had been paid out for 263 pothole damage claims.
The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report shows the backlog of carriageway repairs nationally has increased by almost a quarter (23%) on the previous year to £12.6billion - or £61,700 for every mile of local road in England and Wales.
"Devon residents and businesses are fed up with having to dodge potholes, and roads which are in serious long-term decline - especially in rural areas with unclassified roads accounting for about half the highway network in Devon," Alan said.
In a report to councillors in April this year, Devon said that since 2012/13 the annual revenue funding given to highways for maintenance of Devon roads has gradually fallen from around £35 million to approximately £25 million last year. Coupled with inflationary change, in particular the rapid increase in inflation seen last year, this has meant that the budget for highway maintenance has halved in real terms compared to a decade ago.
The effect of the cut in funding, councillors heard, is "the knock-on impact of forcing change in priorities with safety taking higher consideration and proactive works being stopped, contributing to a more rapid deterioration of roads."
"Once more, Devon is being shortchanged with very little of the money from HS2 being directed to the South West let alone to Devon. About £250million now could begin to make a real difference to the county's roads. I hope we get a positive reply here in Devon from the Prime Minister "
A copy of Cllr Connett's letter to the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP
Dear Prime Minister
I write to you to highlight the urgent need for funding to fix Devon’s highways, fill the potholes, restore faded white lines and begin to recover so many of our rural roads.
The decision to reallocate the HS2 funding appeared, on the face of it, to provide an ideal opportunity for fair funding for Devon. However, I noted that just £6.5bn was allocated to the ‘rest of the country including rail projects in the south west’ compared to over £40bn for the Midlands and the North.
Since 2012/13 the annual revenue funding given to Devon highways for maintenance of the county’s roads had gradually fallen from around £35 million in 2012/13 to approximately £25 million in 2022/23. Coupled with inflationary change, in particular the rapid increase in inflation seen last year, this has meant that the budget for highway maintenance has halved in real terms compared to a decade ago.
Devon County Council says the current estimated spending required to bring the most deteriorated road surfaces into good condition is £167 million, while to prevent further deterioration to the structure of Devon’s highway network the count council says it needs £55 million per year.
Devon urgently needs vital additional funding of around £250 million to fix its roads. Will you help? Thank you.
Cllr Alan Connett