Pots of cash

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a whopping £39.3m minimum would be needed to fix the road defects backlog across Falkirk Council.

That’s over SIX times this year’s roads maintenance budget.

The full figure will be published this month by experts based on 2010 conditions, but will rise even higher, including bridge, lighting and footway faults.

Motorists whose vehicles were damaged by potholes and similar road defects logged 93 claims - totalling £4124 - with the council last year, more than double the 38 made in 2006.

Tuesday’s environment and community safety committee was updated on an Audit Scotland roads maintenance report., and heard that current investment is not enough to tackle the maintenance backlog. Members heard:

nA national roads survey labelled 42.1 per cent of Falkirk-maintained classified roads in an ‘unacceptable’ state (2009-11).

nThis equated to an extra 37.5km of roads not up to scratch in 2011 alone.

nMeanwhile just 54 per cent of unclassified roads, making up the bulk of Falkirk Council’s £955m roads network, passed muster in the 2009-2011 Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey.

Traffic on ‘A’ roads increased by 17 per cent from 1995-2008 and the total estimated damage caused by the past two severe winters is yet to be fully assessed.

But the Audit Scotland report states major investment will be needed.

Deputy committee convener, Councillor Craig R Martin, said: “We are committed to the roads. We all drive on the roads.

“It is on our agenda but unfortunately there are so many demands on our budget we can’t solve this overnight.”

He pointed to an ‘historical lack of investment’ nationwide. Over the past two years there’s been £2m extra for Falkirk’s roads budget, a mix of council and government cash. The council would like a bigger share of road tax cash to fund improvements, he said, and added staff had been working flat out catch up with weather-related potholes. A new plan was shifting the approach from ‘firefighting’ emergency faults, to planning structured upgrades, he added.