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The Hole Truth

The Hole Truth

Winter is just around the corner. Our roads are preparing themselves for the annual attack on our tyres and suspension systems. We’ve had another political season of evasiveness and obfuscation both locally and nationally and as ever nothing has actually been achieved.

You see – it’s all talk. The reality is that in 2009/10 £9 billion pounds was spent on our roads but you, the motorist, actually coughed up a plump £33 billion in fuel and road tax in the same period. Where’s that gone, then?

If you want proof, here’s a direct quote from transport minister Norman Baker: “Local roads are the responsibility of local highway authorities and they are best placed to use their knowledge and experience to decide how to prioritise funding across the range of services they deliver. This Government is giving councils over £3 billion for road maintenance from 2011/12 to 2014/15, as well as investing £6 million for the highways maintenance efficiency programme to get the most out of investment in this area.” In the greater scheme of things that’s not a lot of money.

There you have it. Having devolved road casino pa natet maintenance to cash-strapped local councils in the past, those in power can have someone else to blame whilst hanging tightly onto the purse strings. The upshot of this is that, unquestionably, our roads are going to get worse rather than better. It is also going to be harder to prove the negligence of others when your car drops a wheel down a hole.

The Department for Transport has recently announced proposals to devolve funding for major transport schemes to new local transport bodies. At the same time, it is also considering similarly devolving bus funding and some responsibility for certain rail services. Seriously, that’s just what we need isn’t it? Another level of mid-level bureaucracy. Is it any wonder that there’s no money left to actually do the job. Overall, it sometimes seems unclear who is responsible for what, who has their fingers on the purse strings and who, at the end of the day, is accountable.

It seems such a straightforward thing to organise. Just let one national agency handle all Britain’s roads. Simple. Someone like the Highways Agency for example; but wait. Isn’t that what they used to do anyway? It is hard to know what to do. In other European countries the people take the streets when they see blatant injustice but here, no doubt, we would be too concerned about missing Coronation Street. In the meantime governments continue to pocket great wads of our hard-earned cash.

Apropos of that, a council in the West of England have just voted themselves an extra two grand on their annual expenses. That’s each. Also, did you know that the amount of money paid to motorists for pothole damage would be enough to repair 100,000 holes. Enjoy your driving.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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bG9nZ2VyX0xvZ28uanBnIjtpOjI7czo3MzoiaHR0cDovL21vdG9yYmxvZ2dlci5jby51ay93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzMtTW90b3JfQmxvZ2dlcl9Mb2dvLnBuZyI7fTwvbGk+PGxpPjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gQXV0byBOZXdzPC9saT48L3VsPg==