By County Councillor Rebecca Paul (Tadworth, Walton and Kingswood)
If you asked someone what public asset does everyone in the UK use, what do you think they would say? Maybe our schools or the NHS? Well, in fact it’s our road network. As well as being the UK’s largest publicly owned asset, it is used and relied upon by every single resident in the UK, whether it be for commuting or service delivery. Every resident, whether a vehicle owner or not, relies on roads for all manner of things, from their weekly rubbish collection to receiving their mail.
Well maintained roads are fundamental for the wellbeing and prosperity of communities. Not only do they shape the character of local areas, but they weave individuals and businesses into the fabric of daily life. As such, they must be maintained and invested in to allow our economy to grow and our communities to flourish.
Surrey’s road network is approximately 5,500 km in length and is one of the most highly used networks in England due to its proximity to London. Our nearly 1.2 million population relies upon these roads, along with the many other Brits passing through on their way to London or the airport.
It probably won’t come as a surprise that the most common issue raised by residents with me is the state of our roads. In reality, Surrey County Council receives insufficient funds from central government to adequately maintain the highway network. Limited funding leads to strict prioritisation of works, which in turn causes much frustration for residents still waiting for that ‘elusive’ road resurface.
One of the main reasons for inadequate road funding is the way the road funding formula is calculated. It doesn’t consider traffic volume, only road length. Thus, Surrey’s highway network, which on average can be more than 3 times busier than other roads in England, receives the same amount of funding per kilometre of road despite much higher wear and tear. For 2021/22, the Department of Transport allocated just under £26m to Surrey County Council for roads. This works out as 1.8% of the total available funding, whereas Surrey’s roads bear 2.4% of the total vehicle miles for the whole of England.
Surrey residents deserve to have well maintained roads like other parts of the UK too. I have therefore launched a campaign calling on the Government to reform the road maintenance funding formula to consider traffic volume in addition to road length. If 100,000 signatures are secured, this will trigger a parliamentary debate on the topic and create the opportunity for our MPs to make the case for fairer road funding.
Maintaining Surrey’s highway network is a priority for our residents. Well maintained roads benefit all road users, including cyclists, and are the bedrock of a strong local economy. If you support my campaign, please sign my petition at www.fairroadfunding.uk. Let’s ensure the voices of Surrey residents are heard in Westminster.