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Shoddy resurfacing work costs £218m

12/12/12

TAXPAYERS are forking out more than £200 million a year to repair street surfaces which are poorly relaid by utility companies' contractors after roadworks, according to research released today.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils in England and Wales have to redo 340,000 shoddy resurfacing jobs a year - 17% of all private companies' roadworks - at a total cost of £218 million to the taxpayer.

A survey of small businesses found that poorly planned and executed roadworks are costing shops thousands of pounds a week and stunting local growth, said the LGA.

The LGA's survey of hundreds of high street businesses, carried out last month in conjunction with the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), found that 57% have had streetworks nearby over the past three years and 72% of these were "negatively affected" - including by delivery delays, reduced sales and even forced closure.

Some 43% of those affected experienced disruption for at least a month and 9% for more than six months, while 31% said that roadworks had cut their footfall by a quarter or more, losing as much as £7,500 a week as a result.

Some 96% said councils should have the power to ensure roads are returned to proper standards after being dug up and 79% said utility companies should help pay for it.

The chair of the LGA's economy and transport board, Peter Box, said: "Thousands of hours of streetworks disruption - closed roads, blocked pavements, temporary traffic lights, noisy drilling, restricted parking - are totally avoidable if only utility companies did the job properly.

"There's no excuse for shoddy resurfacing and it's unforgivable when it puts at risk the future of local shops, many of which are the product of years or even generations of hard work. The whole sector needs to sit down together and discuss how we can work together and make sure we keep streetworks disruption to an absolute minimum."

RAC technical director David Bizley said: "Motorists spend a lot of time in congestion caused by roadworks every year as utility companies carry out their work. The last thing they need is to have to endure yet more delays at more roadworks because earlier repairs have been carried out to an inadequate standard.

"A quick fix is never as good as repairing the road properly in the first place. This is bad for both the utility companies and road users. It costs everyone time and money when the road surface breaks down far faster than it should. With the cold winter weather we are currently experiencing any weaknesses in the roads will be exposed very quickly."

The 2012 RAC Report on Motoring cited the condition of Britain's roads as one of the primary concerns of motorists, with 46% of drivers naming it in their top three concerns, said Mr Bizley.

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