Wednesday, 3 July 2013

County Needs Road Repair Action Plan To Deal With £300M Time Bomb

Cllr David Jenkins
Cambridgeshire needs a strong action plan to deal with a £300 million backlog of road, pavement and cycleway repairs.

That’s the view of the county’s Liberal Democrats who are calling for a task force to be set up to devise the plan as the highways maintenance deficit grows by £50 million a year and is projected to get worse.

“It is not enough to simply understand the scale of the problem, or to invest in repairs for a fraction of the work needing attention,” said Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson, Susan van de Ven. “We need a strategy that looks at whole problem in the long term.

“Under 16 years of Tory control, the county council has under-invested in the highways network and allowed our roads to deteriorate on a scale that is now out of control. After the Lib Dems fought to get the Tory administration to address this issue, the county council borrowed £90 million over five years to deal with some of the problems. We welcome this. But the council has a responsibility to get to grips with the overall problem.

Lib Dems are worried that as Cambridgeshire County Council develops its new Transport Strategy and prepares to embark on a number of high profile projects, the county’s roads are crumbling.

They are calling for a team of officers to be tasked with working out a plan which can be put before councillors during talks on next year’s council budget.

Lib Dem Spokesperson for Planning, Environment and Enterprise, David Jenkins said: “We have to remember that this is a countywide problem. We must invest to solve issues across the county not just focus on Cambridge centric solutions.”

“The county is growing fast with some exciting projects in the pipeline,” added Cllr van de Ven, “but at the same time our roads are crumbling. How can we build new developments at Northstowe and elsewhere, improve the A14 and put in place other infrastructure improvements without addressing the condition of our ordinary roads and pavements?

The Lib Dems have submitted a motion which will go before the next full county council meeting on July 16.

The full wording of the motion reads as follows:

This Council notes

  • that the backlog of road repairs in the County is £300 million
  • that the gap is growing at £50 million per year and is projected to widen
  • that the Council has borrowed £90 million over five years to address it
  • that the Council is developing an ambitious new Transport Strategy for Cambridge and South Cambs and is poised to embark on a number of high profile transport infrastructure projects
  • that a decent highway network is not only an important enabler of economic growth but also contributes to the opinion which third parties, including potential investors, form of our county
  • that the Council is taking positive steps through the Department for Transport’s Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme, but this does not address the fundamental problem.

This Council calls upon the Leader

  • to acknowledge that the highways maintenance deficit is an issue which needs to be fully addressed rather than simply understood
  • to establish an officer team to develop an appropriate plan which can form a part of the next budget round