Government funding cuts hamper our ability to maintain roads - column by Cllr Patricia Bradwell OBE, deputy leader of Lincolnshire County Council

The county council is currently planning its budget for the next financial year, looking at how the available funding can be used to provide the wide range of services our residents rely on.

£12m funding could pay for 37 miles of roads, six miles of footway per year and the repair of 24,000 pot holes
£12m funding could pay for 37 miles of roads, six miles of footway per year and the repair of 24,000 pot holes

We know that one area that is particularly important to residents is the maintenance of Lincolnshire’s 5,500-mile road network. Last year, the government reduced Lincolnshire’s highways funding by £12m – that’s a 25 per cent cut. To put that in context, the council’s highways team estimates that £12m would pay for fully rebuilding 37 miles of road and six miles of footway per year, as well as filling 24,000 potholes.

Fortunately, thanks to our careful financial management over the past decade, the council was able to plug that gap last year using our reserves. However, that is not something we can continue to do indefinitely.

Despite our best efforts to work more efficiently, it would cost around £400m to bring all our roads and pavements up to standard.

Instead of cutting our budget, the government needs to recognise the need for further investment in Lincolnshire and maintain their manifesto promise to ‘level up’ the UK.

So the county council is now lobbying government to reinstate the missing £12m – at a minimum.

The Treasury’s own figures show that the East Midlands is consistently one of the lowest funded regions in the UK when it comes to roads and transport. In fact, if we were receiving the same as the UK average, we and our neighbouring counties would have an extra £1 billion to spend each year. We’ve been working closely with our local MPs for a number of years now to get Westminster to hear our pleas for fairer funding.

However, although the government has admitted there’s a need to reform local government funding, we haven’t seen any action.

This is not something we’re prepared to endure silently, and I’d encourage residents to contact their MP too to show their support for our campaign.

When fuel duty brings in over £25 billion a year, it’s hard to understand why we’re having to use our reserves to fund the bare minimum in maintenance, and, without sufficient funding, people will see our roads get worse and the local economy take a hit.

That’s why it is vital that the government fix our funding so we can fix our roads.

Finally, I’d like to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year – I hope you all get an opportunity to relax and spend some time with your loved ones after what has been another challenging year.