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When you are driving around on the UK’s roads every day, you probably aren’t thinking about how much money actually goes into keeping these roads in prime condition, unless obvious maintenance work is ongoing.

Car Lease Special Offers has decided to look into how much is actually being spent on our roads, and in what capacity. Freedom of Information requests were sent to local councils around the UK to ask for the overall spend on road-related issues, as well as breaking down these figures for individual issues such as potholes, traffic lights, street lighting, and resurfacing costs.

Big Spender: Leeds Council Leads the Way in Road Spend

It is Leeds that comes out on top for the overall amount spent on their roads in the financial year of 2020/21, in terms of individual cities. 

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With a total spend of £20,941,900, the Yorkshire city is over £5million ahead of the nearest challenger as the local council look to improve the roads as much as possible. In second place is Stoke-on-Trent, with a spend of £15,200,000, with over half of this outlay going on covering road resurfacing costs (£8.4million).

Bradford took third place in the biggest spenders list, making the top three a Yorkshire double. Bradford council spent £13,798,658 on road-related issues in 2020/21, including taking their place as the top financers on potholes and road repairs.

Kerb Appeal: Coventry Spends the Least on Roads

Looking at the other end of the scale, Coventry had the lowest overall spend of all cities and towns that responded to our FOI requests, with a spend of £1,247,713. This would suggest that there was a much lower need for reactive repairs in the Coventry area, when compared to other major cities.

Also below the £2million mark was Peterborough at £1,286,269 and Warrington at £1,642,370, with the majority spent on highway maintenance and resurfacing costs respectively. 

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Bradford Hits a Bump in the Road with Highest Spend on Potholes Repairs

When looking specifically at money spent on potholes and other similar road repairs, Bradford topped the bill with a total of £3,867,858. These reactive repairs show that the local council are at least responding and fixing these problems on the roads, but the fact that so much had to be spent in this area may be alarming.

The other city to have a pothole repair budget above £3million was Leicester, who spent £3,012,026 on these issues. This was a far cry to the comparative paltry sum of £67,705 that was spent on pothole repairs by Swindon, which was the lowest in this area.

Bolton Tops the List for Highway Maintenance

Highway works and maintenance spend in 2020/21 was topped by Bolton, with a total of £4,623,000. This was quite a distance ahead of the nearest challenger in the form of Leeds, who had spent £3,094,873 on highway works and maintenance.

The lowest figure in this field was Aberdeen, with the northern Scottish city having a highway maintenance bill of just £244,635, with the next lowest being Milton Keynes, at £457,000.

Aberdeen Gave the Green Light for Their Traffic Signal Spending

Though they were bottom of the list for highway works, Aberdeen topped the tree for money spent on traffic light systems overall, totalling £863,141 for the year. This was over £200k more than the next closest for traffic light spend, which saw Plymouth take second place with £614,052 spent.

Third place in this category was Wolverhampton, who splurged £505,300 on their traffic lights throughout the most recent full 12 month period. It was a close race for the bottom of the list this time, with Peterborough having the lowest outlay of £168,328, just a few thousand pounds lower than Nottingham at £169,000.

Stoke-on-Trent Laying Down the Pounds on Resurfacing Costs

Resurfacing roads is a crucial task for local councils, both as a preventative and reactive measure, to ensure that they are up to the required standards to keep drivers safe while driving. There were many cities that spent big on their resurfacing costs, the biggest outlay of which came from the midlands city of Stoke-on-Trent, with £8,404,000 splashed out in this area.

Southampton was not far behind, dealing out £7,800,000 on resurfacing their roads in 2020/21, with Cardiff making an appearance in third place, parting with £5,721,000 on their resurfacing costs. At the lower end of the resurfacing costs list, Blackburn was the most stringent with their budget, only forking out £515,606.

Road Issues Budgets Set Out for 2022

As part of the Freedom of Information requests, we also asked for the budgets of each city’s local council that were available to be spent on road-related issues in 2021/22. Of the respondents, Leeds followed on from their big spend in the previous year by setting out a budget of £21,669,663, which was the highest. Cardiff increased their budget by a few million pounds, having the second-highest figure of £16,071,000.

Although they were the lowest spenders in the previous year, Coventry City Council has kept a low budget of £1,107,420 for the next year. It’s a similar story for Warrington too, with the northwest town stating their budget for 21/22 was £1,742,515.

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Enfield Had the Largest Outlay for London

Car Lease Special Offers also sent out FOI requests to each of the London Boroughs as well, to find out where money was being spent on roads in the UK’s largest city. The results were interesting, as different boroughs focused on different priorities.

  • The biggest overall spend came from Enfield, who handed over £15,192,283 on improving their roads, followed by Redbridge at £9,594,000.
  • The lowest total spend came from Kensington and Chelsea at £2,409,054, while Croydon was also under the £3million mark (£2,980,327).
  • Despite Enfield having the largest outlay in 2021, Newham actually have a higher budget for 2022, with £13,888,300 set aside for road issues compared to Enfield’s £12,044,216.
  • Croydon also increased their budget by a large amount for 2022, with £11,160,000 available to spend across the year.

Methodology

We sent out Freedom of Information requests to 47 local councils, as well as 33 London Boroughs, requesting information on the amount of money spent on road issues including potholes, traffic lights, road resurfacing and highway maintenance for the most recent full 12 month financial period, covering April 2020 to April 2021. We also requested how much each of the councils had budgeted for road issues in the following financial year (2021/22). Not all of the councils replied fully, but the above sections cover the data that was sent back.

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