According to the Lancashire Post
County council areas like Lancashire are being outspent on road repairs by more urban local authorities that have far fewer miles of road in need of maintenance. That is according to the County Councils Network (CCN), which says London’s boroughs were able to spend three times more than so-called ‘shire counties’ on maintaining their roads and investing in upgrades last year. The capital’s councils shelled out £62,350 for every mile of road in their area, compared to £20,885 in county areas.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has learned that Lancashire County Council spent marginally more on its roads during 2019/20 than the average for other county authorities at £24,186 per mile. The figures include capital investment in constructing entirely new routes like the Penwortham bypass.
The CCN claims that lower funding for county areas and disproportionate regional investment has made places such as Lancashire the “poor relations” when it comes to highways funding. The organisation’s research shows that nine percent of the road network belonging to England’s 36 county councils was in need of repair last year a total of 11,117 miles.
While the percentage of repairs required in London was similar, eight percent of the capital’s network, the total mileage was over 15 times lower, at just 730 miles. The man responsible for Lancashire’s roads is not hugely surprised by the difference but says that he would be “grateful for any extra funding” that could come the county’s way.
“London is the capital city and it’s a totally different situation – in Lancashire we have a lot more country roads and a very diverse network” said Lancashire County Council’s Conservative cabinet member for highways, Keith Iddon.
“We get a government grant and we have topped that up ourselves – this administration has put in an extra £15m.
“We have also improved by 12 percent in the latest survey of public satisfaction with repairs to potholes and damaged roads making us one of the most improved counties in the country. I’d like a bigger settlement, but as things stand, it’s the hard work of our highways staff which has without doubt made our improving position possible” County Cllr Iddon added.
The government has promised a £2bn pothole repair fund over the next four years and the CCN is calling for counties to receive the same proportion of the cash as they did of a previous one-off grant in 2018 – 74 percent.
Lancashire County Council is assessed by the Department for Transport as being one of the best-performing authorities for road repairs entitling it to the maximum share from its Highways Maintenance Fund, with County Hall allocated £3.8m in the next financial year.
The 36 urban metropolitan councils in England spent £41,929 per mile on their roads last year, while the eight ‘core cities’ were able to invest £57,241 per mile. The North West as a whole – across both county and urban areas spent £33,770 per mile, one of the highest amounts in the country.
CCN chair David Williams said “County motorists are clearly the poor relation to drivers in London and other cities areas when it comes to how much gets spent on fixing potholes and improving the local road network, with drivers across the country facing a pothole lottery, even within regions. Due to more generous day-to-day funding and infrastructure investment, cities and urban areas are in a position to spend disproportionate amounts in keeping their roads maintained or upgraded compared to councils in counties. This is despite far more of our road network in the shires requiring repairs and improvements.
“The government’s £2bn pothole fund and commitment to level up infrastructure are therefore extremely welcome. These findings show that it is imperative our areas receive a fair share of the government’s new fund, in proportion to the number of miles we are responsible for, while ensuring the longer-term commitment to level up funding for national infrastructure doesn’t bypass county areas that stretch across the length and breadth of England and are the vital arteries for those ‘left-behind’ towns”.
This report suggests the Tory LCC isn’t getting as much from the Tory government and isn’t doing much to fight our corner. The “left behind?”, of course we are