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Potholes to be filled as part of a £2.2 billion for the region - and it's all thanks to HS2

Potholes will be filled as part of a £2.2 billion investment for the Midlands.

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Repairing potholes is expensive business.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said money that would have been spent on the second leg of HS2 from the West Midlands up to Manchester will be diverted to making our roads smoother.

The West Midlands and East Midlands will share the £2.2bn, which is part of £8.3bn being spent across England.

Councils across the West Midlands will be allocated the funding, which the Government says should be used to make a real difference to local roads.

Mr Harper said drivers in England will see “a step change in the quality of local roads” and claimed it is “the largest investment in local road maintenance ever”.

AA figures show call-outs to pothole-related breakdowns are at near-record levels. The organisation has received more than 450,000 so far this year.

The £8.3 billion will be allocated in this way:

  • £2.2 billion in the West Midlands and East Midlands.

  • £3.3 billion in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber.

  • £2.8 billion in the East of England, South East and South West, and London.

The Department for Transport said £5.5 billion of funding for local roads maintenance between 2020 and 2025 was announced before the Network North plan, which is in addition to that.

On a visit to a project tackling potholes, Mr Harper said drivers will see an immediate boost in road conditions.

He said: “One of the things we’re able to do with the cancellation of the second phase of HS2 is free up £8.3 billion over 11 years.

“Councils are going to get money this year, next year, so people will see improvement straight away.

“But we’re also going to set out what local authorities are going to get over a long period of time so they can plan to not just fix potholes, but actually the quality of local road surfaces.

“That money is enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads, so people will see a step change in the quality of local roads.

“For drivers, for cyclists, for bus users – anyone who uses the roads – this is a real improvement that they’ll see in the next few years.”

Mr Harper said it is up to local authorities how to spend maintenance funding, but part of the reason for the “significant increase” is so they can “improve the quality of road surfaces in the future” rather than just focus on fixing existing potholes.

The Cabinet minister said reducing the number of potholes is “a top priority for drivers and road users”.

Some 49 per cent of respondents to an RAC survey of more than 2,500 drivers in March said the condition of local roads was their biggest motoring concern, putting it ahead of all other issues.

Garage repair data analysed by the RAC shows drivers are paying an average of £440 if their car needs fixing after hitting a pothole for any damage more serious than a puncture.

Common vehicle problems caused by potholes include damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels.

The cost of bringing pothole-plagued local roads in England and Wales up to scratch has been estimated at £14 billion.

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We hope local authorities will use the money in the most effective way possible by resurfacing the very worst roads, keeping those in reasonable condition in better states for longer through surface dressing, and filling potholes as permanently as possible wherever necessary.

“This should in time go a considerable way to bringing our roads back to a fit-for-purpose state and saving drivers hundreds of pounds in the process from not having to fork out for frustrating repairs to their vehicles.”

AA president Edmund King said: “The £8.3 billion plan can make a considerable difference in bringing our roads back to the standards which road users expect, especially if councils use the cash efficiently to resurface our streets.

“As well as safer roads, eliminating potholes gives confidence to people wanting to cycle, and instils pride of place within local communities.”