Figures from the Department for Transport show that more than 3.6 million additional cars were licensed between 2009 and 2019, enough to cover the entire British coastline.
The Local Government Association says that figure, an increase in overall licensed caes of 13 per cent, is heaping pressure on our roads and driving home the need for greater investment in our transport network. If the number of additional cars were lined up next to one another, it would amount to more than 11,000 miles.
The rise in cars and traffic on our roads is contributing to worsening road conditions, poor air quality, congestion and carbon emissions. Currently, the government spends 43 times more per mile on maintaining the strategic roads network than the local roads network, and council leaders say that it would take more than £9 billion and 10 years to tackle our backlog of repairs on local roads.
The LGA is calling for the government to reinvest 2p of existing fuel duty, worth around £1 billion a year, in local roads maintenance to help tackle this backlog.
Council leaders are also concerned that transport funding is divided up into multiple cash pots, with 11 different ways of allocating money for roads alone, each with different rules, timescales and allocations processes. They say that a far better approach would be to provide councils with stable, devolved infrastructure and public transport budgets – ensuring a funding allocation in advance for five years, which would enable them to deliver infrastructure improvements that allow people to move around in less carbon intensive and more sustainable ways.
David Renard, the LGA’s transport spokesman, said: “The sheer volume of traffic on our roads has completely overtaken the amount councils are able to spend on local transport. Councils need long-term funding certainty and investment so they can create safe and attractive cycling and public transport networks, and deliver a more resilient roads network.
“With the UK hosting the UN Climate Change Conference later this year, next week’s Budget is an opportunity for the government to demonstrate its commitment to tackling climate change and investment in reducing harmful emissions from transport, which is the single biggest contributor of carbon in the country.”