The north of England has missed out on almost £125m of Government cash for repairing its potholed roads over the past three years due to a funding formula which favours the South.
New figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal councils across the North have received on average 15 per cent less funding for road maintenance per head of population than their Southern counterparts since the start of 2011/12.
As a whole, Northern councils would have received an additional £124.5m over the past three years for repairing local roads had they received the same per capita funding as those in the South.
“This is another example of a significant North/South divide in government transport funding, and it is resulting in West Yorkshire’s population getting what is literally a rougher ride – while for people in the South it’s a much smoother journey,” said Coun James Lewis, who chairs West Yorkshire transport authority Metro.
The DfT says road maintenance money is allocated using a complex formula based around the types of roads and bridges in each local authority area.
But with a majority of councils telling the Government in a recent consultation that its current approach is unfair and must be overhauled, the department says the formula is now under review.
In total, northern councils received £736.9m for pothole repairs over the 2011-14 period – equating to £51.24 per head of population. Councils in the South received £1.2bn over the same period, equating to £59.90 per head.
Hilary Benn, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary and the MP for Leeds Central, said: “The huge disparities between regions when it comes to transport spending must be dealt with, in particular by introducing a fairer allocation per head of population.
“Ministers have got to get moving on this, so that Leeds gets a fair share of the money needed to repair potholes and improve our roads.”
The DfT insisted its formula is based on the “likely need” of each local area’s roads, but that it was now under review following the consultation with council chiefs.
A spokesman said: “We are investing just under £9bn in local road maintenance across England.
“We don’t allocate maintenance funding based on population but on likely need, based on road length and likely bridge and lighting repairs. If an authority has a larger highway network to maintain they will receive a higher proportion of funding.
“We are reviewing the funding formula, and will liaise with councils prior to any changes being brought in from 2015/16.”