Councils are calling on government to fund an expected road repair programme of at least £400 million following damage inflicted by the recent heavy rain and flooding in England and Wales.
Emergency funding is also needed to repair storm battered coastal defences, says the Local Government Association (LGA).
The LGA is demanding a highways maintenance emergency fund from the Department for Transport to cover £400 million of damage identified in a survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) ALARM survey of council highways managers in England and Wales. The AIA estimate is likely to be increased when full results of its survey are ready in April.
The 2009 storms cost an estimated £400 million of damage to local roads, and an ALARM survey showed the cost of the 2012 heavy rains was £338 million. The recent adverse weather however was worse than in either of those years and damage is thought to be correspondingly more severe.
Councils says that the current system for supporting them for repairing flooding damage, the Bellwin Scheme, will fall short of needs. The scheme reimburses councils who spend more than 0.2% of eligible expenditure on flooding, up to 85% of the cost. A number of exclusions apply however, notably capital funding.
Councillor Mike Jones, Chair of the LGA's Environment and Housing Board, said: “The severe weather has left behind a daunting trail of destruction for councils to clear-up and fix. We were already facing a £10.5 billion repair backlog to bring our highways up to scratch and the damage to our roads by this recent flooding will be considerable and costly.
"While we are pleased the Bellwin Scheme will be activated, the fact remains that Bellwin is severely limited as it does not cover most capital costs. An emergency highways maintenance fund would provide essential support to those councils who now face hefty and unexpected repair bills as a result of the flooding.”
Photo: Lee Jordan