The cost to clear the ‘maintenance backlog’ to bring Norfolk’s roads up to standard has soared to £69m, as inflation pushed the cost up by 20pc in the space of just a year.
The council has warned that, without extra government investment, if inflation keeps rising then it will become even harder for them to keep the county’s roads in a decent state, reports the Eastern Daily Press.
That could hamper the council’s ability to fix potholes or to carry out bigger improvement projects.
At a meeting next week, officers will tell councillors that the maintenance backlog bill has risen from £57.4m to £68.6m.
That figure is how much it would cost the council to get roads and bridges up to the standards they should be in.
Officers said: “Significant inflation is being experienced, which is placing pressure on the Highways Capital Programme.
“Whilst an element of this can be contained within the current programme and resources, if the current level of inflation is sustained in the longer term, then the programme will have to be reviewed along with the potential deferment of some schemes unless additional funding is allocated from the Department for Transport.”
Graham Plant, the council’s cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure, said: “The impact of inflation is a well-known national issue and has been reflected in the outcome of the ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey 2023.
“Nationally, our road condition compares well, our A,B and C roads are at the national average whilst our unclassified roads are better than average.”
The council budgeted to spend £44.9m in 2023/24 was similar, but that was boosted by £6.4m from the government’s pothole fund. The budget for next year is expected to be £44.9m.
Mr Plant said: “We are pleased that the government provided additional funding for local roads in its March budget for 2023-24 including £6.4m for Norfolk.
“We are hopeful that a similar announcement will be made for 2024-25.”