Charity should begin at home for bankrolling road repairs

UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour is calling on the Government to stop bankrolling investment in overseas roads – when so many parts of the UK’s own surfaces are in such a bad state of repair.

She was responding to a report which reveals that some £37 million of the UK’s £13 billion foreign aid budget is currently being used to patch up potholes and upgrade roads in India.

“This is a country which has its own space programme, and is planning to spend £10 billion on a fleet of warships – why should we be funding public services they are clearly perfectly able to afford themselves?

“Meanwhile, many British roads are in a poor state of repair, even though our motorists pay some of the highest taxes in the world.”

A further £265 million has been spent on building a new road corridor in Pakistan, and £700 million on a road and power project at Lake Victoria in East Africa, the Government’s foreign aid spending watchdog has revealed.

“It is insane to be throwing such large sums of money at these overseas projects when our own road and rail network is creaking at the seams, crying out for investment,” Mrs Seymour said.

“When it comes to investment in transport infrastructure, we have got our priorities completely wrong. The only domestic transport project the Government seems bothered about right now is the white elephant HS2 project which we don’t need.

“Charity begins at home. We pay enough taxes to have the best roads in the world, but instead they are rapidly becoming the worst.

“Once all of our own roads are fixed and our deficit is gone, then maybe we can look at helping to repair and build roads around the world.

“Until then, this insane nonsense has to stop, and our incompetent Government needs to wake up and listen to the people – or stand aside and let someone else into power who will but the needs of the British people first.”

Mrs Seymour, who sits on the transport committee in the European Parliament, said the ‘hidden cost’ of the lack of investment in UK roads was already being passed to long-suffering drivers in spiralling car repair bills.

In the 12 months to the end of September, the RAC revealed that its patrols attended 14,220 breakdowns including incidents with distorted wheels, broken suspension springs and damaged shock absorbers – likely to have been caused by potholes.

The RAC’s Pothole Index, a long-term indicator of the state of our roads, now stands at 2.63 which means pothole damage is more than 2.5 times as likely to cause a breakdown than in 2006.

The estimated cost for local councils to repair roads in England and Wales is £14 billion in the next two years and the Asphalt Industry Alliance warns that one in five local roads is in a poor condition with the frequency of road resurfacing in decline.

Mrs Seymour said: “Our Government needs a big shake-up. They are spending vast sums of taxpayers’ money on trying to buy friends overseas while the hard-pressed British motorist is counting the cost of the terrible state of our roads.

“It beggars belief that our own motorists should being ruthlessly exploited in this way, and expected to put up with sub-standard domestic roads while their taxes bankroll investment on the other side of the world.”