The staggering cost of keeping our roads safe
Figures from the county council indicate it would take around £400m to repair every single road and pavement.
And the shortfall would have even bigger if the county council had not pumped £12.3m of its own money into roads maintenance..
The authority’s initial roads budget for 2021/22 was £38.7m, compared to £51m in 20/21 – a reduction of almost a quarter (£12.3m) year on year.
However, the county’s budget includes an additional £12.3m to make up the deficit.
The extra money will come from savings in other areas and reserves.
Despite the on-going funding issues – caused by central Government cuts – the council says it is ‘much better’ at fixing defects.
The figures reveal:
• The council repaired 2,480 potholes across Lincolnshire in January;
• In the week February 22 to March more than 1,500 potholes were fixed;
• As of now, there are around 3,000 reported potholes waiting to be repaired;
• 70 per cent have repairs scheduled
That ‘waiting list’ follows one of the coldest winters for many years.
However, the News understands that after the last bad winter (2018), the council had over 20,000 potholes waiting to be fixed.
Before the council’s budget plans were confirmed, Coun Richard Davies executive member for highways: “For such a vitally important service to be cut so drastically is frustrating and disappointing.
“We must receive more reports, requests and comments about our roads, than about any other county council service.
“Prevention is always better than the cure, and without adequate funding, there will be long-term consequences for the state of our roads,and huge investment needed to bring them back up to standard.”
The county also points to an imbalance nationally.
In 2019/20, the county was able to invest around £25,000 per mile in its road network while London councils were able to afford an average of £62,000 per mile.
Regarding the decision to make up the funding shortfall, council leader Coun Martin Hill said: “The taxpayers of Lincolnshire should not be expected to cover indefinitely money which should go to road repairs that the Government holds from fuel duty.
“Continuing to invest in Lincolnshire’s infrastructure would have been an ideal way to continue the Government’s agenda of ‘levelling up’ the county.
“But a roads funding reduction of nearly 25 per cent seems completely counterproductive .”
The figures came to light in a report sent by Horncastle’s county councillor Bill Aron to his town council colleagues.
Coun Aron has been criticised for failing to secure funding for a number of ‘hoped for’ projects
However, Coun Aron “We manage and maintain over 5,500 miles of road,and despite our best efforts and continued efficiency improvements in the way we work, it would cost around £400m to bring all our roads and pavements up to standard.
“While we will continue to work hard and keep Lincolnshire’s roads safe, ultimately how much work we can do is dictated by how much we can invest in the network.”
He revealed extra ‘gangs’ had been employed to carry out repairs and that – alongside the use of new technology – had made a positive impact. He urged people to continue to report defects via the on-line portal ‘FixmyStreet.’