A £200m national pothole repair fund will barely make a dent in fixing a ‘backlog’ of bumpy Northampton roads Labour leaders have claimed.
Chancellor George Osborne announced that local authorities would be able to apply for a share of the money to improve hole-riddled highways during his budget speech in March and said he was “fully expecting” Northampton’s bid for money to be successful.
But a report released last week by the county council showed £100m would be needed to fix the worst ‘red’ rated routes in the county alone and £224m would be needed to bring the entire network up to a ‘perfect’ standard.
Labour’s shadow cabinet member for transport, Councillor Winston Strachan (Lab, Castle), believes the county’s roads will continue to decline unless drastic funding is pumped into such a scheme.
He said: “It costs £20m to keep Northamptonshire’s roads in their current state, without even addressing the backlog of road maintenance, which equates to some £224m.
“Spending on road maintenance was just £15m in 2012/13, meaning the state of our roads is set to deteriorate further.”
Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister Richard Burden MP labelled the £200m fund ‘too little too late’ adding that the Govermnent’s reduction in roads spending had created a ‘pothole epidemic’.
The Coalition spent £920m on road maintenance between 2010 and 2011, compared to £779m in 2012-13.
But Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, who handed in a 1,200 name petition to Chancellor Osborne asking for more to be spent on repairs in the county, said Labour ‘can’t take the good news’.
“Of course it will make a dent, it will make a very significant improvement in Northampton,” he said.
Northamptonshire County Council has welcomed the extra funding for roads, but having spent £2.5m fixing 40,000 potholes last year, it says catching up on a £100m ‘backlog’ will be a continuing ‘challenge. A spokesperson said that the authority had moved away from ‘temporary maintenance’ and was now focusing on more ‘preventative’ re-surfacing work and semi-permanent repairs on highways defects, which had seen ‘good results’.