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ICE Public Works and Services Poll

A public opinion poll on behalf of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Date Published: 11 Apr 2011

Categories: Economy | Energy | Infrastructure | Public and communities | Technology & Telecoms | UK


The public’s satisfaction with the state of our roads and highways has plummeted to its lowest level according to the latest public service satisfaction survey, released today by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

The survey, which monitors change in attitudes to key public services in the UK – from roads and public transport, through to energy supply and flood defences - showed that only a third of respondents (32 percent) are now satisfied with the quality of the UK’s roads and highways, a drop from 50 percent in the last quarter of 2010. At the same time, 61 percent put roads and highways as their first or second priority for more investment.

Satisfaction in UK roads has been gradually slipping since the survey started in December 2008 – when 62 percent said they were satisfied. The sharp rise in the number of pot holes caused by periods of extreme weather is expected to have caused the drop in satisfaction. According to a recent survey by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, the number of potholes over the last year has tipped the two million mark for the first time - an increase of 59 per cent over the previous year. This increase has raised road repair bills to a record £10.7bn, up from £9.5bn in 2010.

ICE Vice President, Geoff French, said: “The extra £200mn recently made available to help with road repairs is very welcome, though unfortunately this doesn’t equate to much when spread across a large number of authorities and won’t make much of a dent in the huge annual budget deficit.

“The funding shortfall inevitably leads to a maintenance backlog and puts council’s under immense pressure to deal with the problem. This leads to ‘quick fix’ maintenance that fails to tackle the root of the problem, leading to more work and expense for local authorities down the line – and more frustration for the public. 

“Planned, preventative maintenance that lasts is needed to ensure our roads are resilient against the winter weather conditions we are seeing now and is more cost effective in the long term. But in these austere times, we know it is difficult to fund this approach. Local authorities must therefore have a coherent and transparent strategy for how to best deal with the situation in their area given the financial constraints.”
 The ICE survey also showed:
• 52% are satisfied with public transport services (down from 63% in Q4 2010)
• 72% are satisfied with electricity and gas supply to homes (down from 78% in Q4 ‘10)
• 67% are satisfied with rubbish and waste disposal services (down from 80% in Q4 ‘10)
• 52% are satisfied with the provision of flood defences (down from 61% in Q4 ‘10)
• 80% are satisfied with drinking water and sewage services (down from 91% in Q4 ’10)

The ICE survey, conducted quarterly by ComRes, investigates public attitudes towards key public works and services and asks them to indicate their overall levels of satisfaction as well as their top investment priorities. ComRes surveyed 2050 members of the public online between the 18 and 20 March 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.  ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abide by its rules. 

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