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Extent of Cornwall's damaged roads revealed

Extent of Cornwall's damaged roads revealed

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:00am 12th October 2019.

The poor condition of more than 150 miles of Cornwall's roads could leave drivers, bikers and cyclists facing "devastating crashes".

That is what new figures from the Department for Transport suggest.

The data shows that 3.7% of Cornwall's council-run roads - around 169 miles - were likely to have considerable deterioration in 2018-19.

They include 3% of unclassified roads, 65.2 miles – 1% of A roads and motorways, and 5% of B and C roads.

Roads that are likely to show considerable deterioration are categorised as "poor", and may need maintenance within the next 12 months.

Councils use human inspection or scanning machines to assess the state of a road’s surface, although the exact technique can vary between local authorities.


Cornwall Council says we have over 4,500 miles of road in Cornwall and we are rated amongst the top 25% in the country for keeping our main roads in good repair.   

But it faces a giant maintenance backlog and is calling for more government funding.


“We are investing in our roads but we need the Government to increase our budget so we can carry out a planned highway maintenance programme.

"Here in Cornwall we have a growing backlog of road maintenance and repairs which now totals £270m.” 

"Cornwall’s road network is very important to our communities and the Council is investing an extra £20million, £10 million a year over 2 years, to make Cornwall’s highways more resilient to the freeze-thaw action of water that is the number one cause of potholes.

"We are exceeding our target of fixing potholes with 98% repaired within a 48 hour time frame from receiving a report of a pothole to fixing it."

Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, Geoff Brown


Brake is joining calls by other organisations for a significant boost to maintenance funding to help people stay safe and avert potentially costly repairs.

The charity, which campaigns for road safety, says damaged roads “can contribute to potentially devastating crashes, with cyclists and motorcyclists most at risk”.

"Investment in our road network is a must to help prevent the huge cost to society of a serious crash."

Brake spokesperson

The Conservative Party recently vowed to spend £25 billion on England's roads, with 14 major routes earmarked for improvements.

But David Renard, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said the Government spends 43 times more per mile on maintaining national roads than council-controlled ones, which make up 97% of the network.

He added: “With councils facing a £9 billion local roads repair backlog, we also need to see the Government’s investment in national roads matched by at least the same investment in local roads.”

David Renard, Local Government Association’s transport spokesman



Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, said a driver today is twice as likely to suffer a breakdown as a result of a pothole than in 2006.

The company is calling for fuel duty funds to be ring-fenced, saying that 2p per litre could raise nearly £5 billion over five years to help clear a backlog of pothole repairs.

Roads minister Baroness Vere said travelling on poor road surfaces is “not only frustrating but also incredibly hazardous”.

“That is why we are providing councils with more than £6.6 billion between 2015 and 2020 to help them repair damaged roads, and why we are also looking at innovative ways to help tackle this problem, such as trialling new materials and repair techniques.”

Roads minister Baroness Vere

You can find all the source data here and also here.

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