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£140m added to road repair kitty

Road closed and flood sign10/3/14

By Mark Stillman

The worst-hit regions in this winter's floods are to have their level of government aid nearly doubled.

Ministers have announced that a fund targeting such areas will be increased from £43.5 million to £80 million.

It is part of an extra £140 million the government is pledging to repair roads damaged in England's wettest-ever winter.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that every local authority will also share a £103.5 million increase in the money available for wet-weather repairs, such as fixing potholes.

Road repairs

The additional funding is in response to council leaders' call for emergency cash to handle destruction to the already run-down network left behind by recent flooding.

It is believed that most town halls will get the additional finance this week with the aim of repairs being completed by the summer holidays.

The funding will take the overall 2013/14 budget to £1 billion.

McLoughlin said: "Having the right infrastructure in place to support businesses and hardworking people is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan.

Improve local roads

"This extra money will help make a real difference to the millions of road users and local residents who rely on local roads, giving them safer and smoother journeys."

The number of compensation claims by motorists who hit potholes last year rose substantially to at least 40,000, according to a Sunday Telegraph poll of local authorities.

AA president Edmund King said: "Even though we haven't had the traditional ice and snow this winter, the relentless rain has taken its toll on many roads.

"Some road surfaces have been eroded away by rain and cause particular danger for those on two wheels as well as damage for those on four wheels.

'Funding welcome'

"The funding is welcome but we will still be playing catch-up once this money runs out.

"Potholes and the cost of fuel are the top two issues for our members and both could do with extra help."

Council leaders welcomed the additional funding, but added it would probably not cover the entire cost of the clear-up.

Mike Jones is chair of the Local Government Association's environment and housing board.

More funding needed

He said: "We do not yet know what the full bill for the cost of this winter's devastating floods will be, but we expect it to be more than £140 million.

"Nevertheless, we are pleased the government has recognised the need to provide funding for these extensive and costly repairs.

"Councils already face a substantial £10.5 billion shortfall to bring our roads up to scratch and this has been exacerbated by adverse weather, which seems to be becoming increasingly common.

"There is an even greater need for increased and consistent funding over a number of years for the road network to recover, such as investing in widespread resurfacing projects.

"This money shows the government has recognised the need to provide additional funding."

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