As local authorities across the country set their budgets for the coming year, drivers are expecting a raw deal ahead of their approval. A recent survey by the AA has found that a third (33%*) of drivers anticipate their local council to cut the budget relating to road drainage clearing, but three fifths (59%) expect an increase in charges in both short and long stay car parks.
Almost one on four drivers (39%) expect fares at congestion cutting services such as Park & Ride to rise this year.
The survey of more than 13,500 drivers also found that a quarter (26%) believe that funding to important community travel services, like dial-a-ride, will be slashed.
When it comes to filling potholes and road maintenance, a fifth (22%) expect their council to cut the budget, whereas a quarter (26%) believe their authority to increase their budget. Around two fifths believe the budget will remain the same (37%).
Drivers feel that some areas of their council’s transport budget will remain the same. More than half of drivers believe that funding for street lights, winter services and local road safety schemes will be left untouched for the year (58%, 57% and 52% respectively).
The AA is warning councils to be careful when setting their budgets for the 2022/23 financial year, as aggressive hikes in parking fees and public transport fares could choke off much needed local trade.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “It is no secret that local council funding is stretched, yet drivers feel they will be targeted as councils try to balance the books.
“There is little surprise that parking fees and charges are an easy target for councils to increase in an effort to raise funds. However, as local economies look to bounce back from the pandemic we are concerned that people could be priced out of their town centre and keep shopping online.”
Cousens continued: “Arguably, the local road network is biggest, most important asset a council owns, but years of underinvestment means it has cracked and crumbled. We hope those who believe their council will increase the pothole and road maintenance funds are proved right, but we worry their hopes will be crushed in the coming weeks.
“We desperately need more funding from both central and local government in order to produce safer, smoother travel however people use the road.”