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Funding cuts 'to hit road repairs'

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Councils will struggle to fix potholes on roads damaged by the extreme winter weather in December because of budget cuts, a lobbying group has warned.

According to the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents over 350 councils, local authorities across England face a collective funding shortfall of £165 million for road maintenance.

The cutbacks could mean delays and problems with repair work once the scale of the damage caused by the worst December weather in a century is assessed, it said.

Potholes created during the winter freeze pose a major safety risk to motorists and can damage vehicles, leading to unexpected car insurance claims.

More than two million potholes were repaired last year with an additional funding of £100 million received from the Highways Maintenance Budget.

However the councils' existing road repair budget is to be reduced by £65 million from this April.

The allowance for road repairs in 2010/2011 is £871 million, dropping to £806 million next year and £779 million the year after, the LGA said.

By 2013/2014, the Highways Maintenance Budget is expected to be £750 million and £707 million in 2014/2015.

Councillor Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's economy and transport board, said: "The coldest December in 100 years will have taken a massive toll on our roads and this damage is coming at a time when councils are being made to scale back their highways maintenance budgets."

© Press Association 2011