Sun editor challenges PM over potholes
Ken Gibson is the Motoring Editor for The Sun newspaper and he, like many of us, is fed up with the state of the UK's pothole-ridden roads. Unlike the rest of us, he has decided to do something about it and has launched a campaign to sort the problem out. He's even written to the Prime Minister.
Says Gibson: “Roads are the indispensable backbone of Britain. But right now they’re crumbling into a minefield of potholes, disrepair and chaos. These are the same roads British drivers pay £46billion a year in motoring taxes to use.
“In return, the Government are investing just £6.3billion on major motorway and trunk road schemes and providing councils with around £3billion between 2011 and 2015 to maintain the roads. Transport Minister Norman Baker says a highways maintenance efficiency programme has been set up to help local councils deliver a ‘first-class service, and at the same time save money’.
“But Mr Baker must be driving on different roads to the rest of us if he thinks a first-class service is being delivered. The reality is that the condition of many of our roads is what you’d expect in a Third World country rather than a powerhouse of Europe.”
Here is the full text of Gibson’s open letter to the PM:
Dear Prime Minister,
This week I am giving you a challenge on behalf of the 35m motorists of the UK. The challenge is that you spend a day with me driving the roads of Britain to experience first hand how they have become a national embarrassment. British motorists now pay £46 billion for the privilege of driving on some of the worst roads in Europe. Of that just £8 billion goes back into our roads, shared between motorways and local highways.
A major new report reveals that it would cost £10.5 billion to get our road network back into just a “reasonable condition”, and that it will take 12 YEARS to clear the road repair back-log in England and Wales. As there is currently a shortfall of £831 million a year for highways repairs, there is not a hope in hell of our roads ever getting to a reasonable state.
Your Government are watching the disintegration of our road network, into a crumbling patchwork quilt of potholes and a sea of cones, because of totally inadequate funding in the roads. And while our highways turn into the roads from hell your Government is pressing ahead with a multi-billion investment into a new rail link, while neglecting the roads that are the backbone of the economy. Our roads are not only vital to industry but also support our daily lives.
It’s time the Government stopped using motorists as a cash cow and gave us a road network worthy of a country that’s meant to be one of the leaders in Europe. An immediate way to put our roads back on track would be to invest a substantial amount of the £46 billion you take from motorists in taxation directly back into the roads. I await your reply.
Ken Gibson, Motoring Editor