£600k for potholes, but still gaps in road funding

ROAD BLIGHT The cash will help to repair potholes
ROAD BLIGHT The cash will help to repair potholes

Weather damaged roads in Kirklees are to benefit from a £600,000 boost thanks to the latest government budget.

The Department for Transport is to give Kirklees £606,663 as part of an emergency payment to help with road repairs following the wettest winter on record.

Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, announced funds to repair the damage to the region’s roads during the severe weather.

But while acting Kirklees Council leader David Sheard said the sum was “not to be sniffed at”, he said the council needed to be spending ten times more than they are currently doing on the road network to keep it up to scratch.

Kirklees have been hit by massive funding cuts from central government, which is where they get most of their cash. Coun Sheard cited figures which showed Kirklees has had to inflict a massive 57 per cent cut to its capital highways budget – in 2008/09 £31.8m was spent but this year it has reduced to £13.8m.

In the same period the revenue budget for highways was reduced from £21m to £15m – a 29 per cent cut.

Councils have a responsibility to maintain their roads properly, but the exceptional weather has caused significant additional damage, increasing the amount of damage to the local road network.

All local highway authorities will be required to publish information on their website by end August 2014 showing where the money has been spent. Coun Sheard said: “Things are getting worse – we are only spending 10 per cent of what we need to spend, but it’s money we just don’t have.”

He also said that the relatively mild weather in the past few months would mean cash not spent on gritting would be spent on the roads.

Commenting on the funding, which will see £183.5m dished out to authorities across the country,

Mr McLoughlin said: “Damage to roads causes misery for drivers and local communities and the severe weather over the last few months has made the problem worse.

“This extra money will help make a real difference to the millions of road users and residents across the North West who rely on local roads, giving them safer and smoother journeys.”