The state of the roads in Kirklees – and across the country – has been laid bare in a council report.

The crumbling road network in Kirklees needs £267 million of repairs – yet the council only has a budget of £13 million a year.

Nationally more than half the roads have less than 15 years of life left and a staggering £16.3 billion is needed to tackle the maintenance backlog.

A report to Kirklees Council’s Cabinet is blunt in its assessment saying: “The highway network is therefore in a state of managed deterioration.”

The council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve highways budgets of £24.2 million for 2024-25 and £17.1 million for 2025-26.

This money isn’t just spent on the roads themselves, it also includes bridges, walls, street lights, pedestrian crossings and ‘active travel’ routes to encourage walking and cycling.

Of the £24.2 million for this financial year, almost £1.3 million will be spent on repairing potholes.



The report to Cabinet on Tuesday July 9 says: “As with all assets there is a need to continue to invest in the Kirklees road network to counter natural and user derived deterioration and to allow roads to meet the expectations of users.

“An inadequately maintained network can present a danger to highway users, create congestion and pollution through unplanned roadworks, cause a detrimental impact on the local economy and lead to an increase in ‘third party’ claims against the council for vehicle damage and/or personal injury.

“All these factors present an unforeseen burden on the highway revenue budget and staff resources, resulting in a significant proportion of the budget being spent on purely reactive maintenance as opposed to preventative measures.

“As a Highway Authority, the council has certain legal obligations it must meet to ensure the highway network is safe and fit for purpose.

“From time to time, these obligations may become the subject of claims for loss or personal injury. Demonstrating that the council maintains the highway in accordance with the Code of Practice is essential to be able to counter such claims and protect the ‘public purse.’”

The council says it commissions an independent condition assessment of its roads and works with other local authorities to compare performance.

The report adds: “To offer context to forward decision making on the highway maintenance programme, the latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey shows that nationally, more than half of the local road network is reported as having 15 years or less of structural life remaining, and that £16.3 billion is now needed to tackle the backlog of carriageway repairs in England and Wales, the highest figure in 29 years of reporting.

“In Kirklees, the total road network maintenance spend required is circa £267 million against an annual allocated budget of circa £13 million.

“Principal roads spend is estimated to be £28 million, B & C roads £29 million and the unclassified road network is estimated to be £211 million. The highway network is therefore in a state of managed deterioration.”

This summer the council is carrying out ‘surface dressing’ on 32 roads across the district including some in Almondbury, Fenay Bridge, Kirkheaton, Honley, Thongsbridge, Grange Moor and Mirfield.

Putting down chips is seen as a cost effective way to prolong the lifespan of a road by up to 10 years. A thin surface overlay treatment – known as ‘slurry sealing’ – can also prolong the lifespan of pavements.

The report adds: “The council’s engineers determine the best package of works that will preserve and prolong the good condition of roads, together with the need to restore or replace those that are in a poorer condition.

“The cost difference between the ‘preserve’ and ‘replace’ options can be five times more expensive so it is good highway management practice to keep sound roads in an acceptable condition and that is why more cost-effective treatments such as surface dressing and micro asphalt are widely used.”


Kirklees Council fixed 26,087 potholes in 2023 and here’s how to make a claim if you think the council is responsible for damage to your car