Council REJECTS amendment to keep £1.9 million in budget to fix 'poor state' of roads across Northampton

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“Residents who can see the roads and walk the pavements will shortly get their bills and ask the perennial question, what are we paying for?”

West Northamptonshire Council has voted AGAINST a motion to keep £1.9 million in the highways budget to fix the “poor state” of the roads across the town and beyond.

A motion put forward by Independent Councillor Ian McCord, and backed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, was voted down by the Conservative-led West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) at a council meeting.

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Councillor McCord said: “Recently I managed to discover that the funds for highway maintenance, pot hole repairs, pavement repairs etc is to reduce by £1.9 m this year. This is chiefly because one off government funds, as yet, have not been promised.

Councillor Larratt is in charge of highways at WNCCouncillor Larratt is in charge of highways at WNC
Councillor Larratt is in charge of highways at WNC

“I have proposed an amendment to the budget that will restore this cut and keep repairs at a level at least what it currently is. We all know that more needs to be done but I proposed we don’t go backwards.

“The real issue is care. Adults and children's services are taking up 62 percent of the WNC funds. This is a national problem and needs a national solution, in short fix care and we can fix potholes.

"This amendment replaces that funding shortfall by moving £2 million from the contingency to the Highways Budget. It has little impact on the structure or robustness of the budget.”

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Councillor McCord added: “Residents who can see the roads and walk the pavements will shortly get their bills and ask the perennial question, what are we paying for? Our roads are in a poor state. The current policy is the orderly management of decline. We must not allow that claim to be accelerated by reducing funding further.

"Council has the opportunity to take the side of the residents by supporting this amendment. Council can support the residents and make their priorities, the priorities of this council.

"You can support the amendment and keep funding at its present level or carry on managing the decline of our roads and pavements. The choice is clear and stark, broken alloys and broken ankles or pothole and pavement repairs.”

Responding, councillor Phil Larratt, in charge of highways at WNC, said: “I agree that our roads are not in the best of states – more recently with the bad weather and the cold weather in particular before Christmas – they are breaking up and potholes are appearing.

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“We are doing a far better job with the quality of repair. We have certainly seen that.

“We are trying to get there. We're trying to do our best. Yes, the £1.86 million that was awarded to us by government when they announced the budget in March. We haven't been told whether or not we're getting that this coming year

“It's an election year, God only knows what you might get as a softener. We need to wait and see what comes from government. Yes we are getting the additional HS2 money, £1.3 million I believe.

“But there's also promises or an understanding that we're likely to receive something like £80 million from the HS2 fund over the next decade. And we are actually in the process of preparing a plan as to how we will spend that money to deliver the improvements to the roads the government wants to see, and that we want to see. That report for government is currently being prepared.

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“Roads are our priority and we're keen to do what we can. I'm sure that any funds that do become available will be invested in our highways.

"We will invest anything that comes along in highways. We will bid for everything we possibly can for highways, and we will continue to invest in new equipment to make us more effective and more efficient. I think the latest technology for filling potholes is drones would you believe.”

27 councillors voted in favour of the motion, but 39 voted against it, with one abstaining.

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Residents across the town continue to criticise the state of the roads on social media.

If you have seen any huge potholes in your area, please email a picture and details of its location to [email protected].