AROUND 20 km of roads in St Helens were deemed to be in poor condition in 2016-17, a new study has revealed.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance has said the cost of getting roads in England and Wales back into a reasonable condition had increased to £12 billion.

Its study said too much money was still being spent on fixing sudden cracks and patching holes rather than on long-term maintenance and investment.

The management and maintenance of the local highway network falls under the statutory responsibility of individual local highway authorities.

Data from the Department of Transport (DfT) and analysed by the BBC found that in St Helens, 19.3 km of minor roads (B, C and unclassified) required maintenance in 2016-17.

Over the past eight years, 5.4 per cent of all minor roads in the borough required maintenance.

During the same period, 0.83 km of major roads (A roads) required maintenance, with a 4 per cent average over eight years. St Helens data was for 2010-11 was not provided.

According to the RAC, the number of drivers breaking down after hitting potholes has seen a “concerning” rise, and warned many roads were “hanging in the balance”.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “Local roads across Britain are suffering from years of underinvestment, which is why the RAC believes the Government, as a matter of urgency, needs to look at the issue from a long-term point of view.

“This means identifying a funding strategy to address both prevention and cure, and give local authorities certainty of funding so they are able to plan ahead.

“We calculate that if the Government was to ring-fence 5p a litre from existing fuel duty revenue, this could provide £11.8 billion over five years.

“This would go a long way to fixing our roads as the one-off cost of bringing them back to a fit-for-purpose state has been independently estimated to be in the region of £12 billion.

Nationally, some three per cent of A roads in England in 2016-17 were deemed to be in a poor condition. For minor roads in England, around 5 per cent were in a poor condition.

On average, London, the South East and the North West have the highest percentage of roads deemed to be in a poor condition.

However, in general, the condition of England’s roads in local authority areas has been improving from 2009-10.

A DfT spokesman said: “This Government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future and investing a record £23 billion on our roads to improve journeys.

“We know that road surfaces are a concern for all road users and that is why we are providing local highway authorities in England with just under £6 billion to help improve the condition of our local highway networks.

“We are also providing authorities with a record £296 million through the pothole action fund, enough to fix just under six million potholes.

“This includes an additional £46 million, as announced in December 2017, to help them repair potholes that may have formed over the winter.”