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Funding row erupts over road repairs

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 00:00:00 -0800

COUNCILS hit by the recent extreme weather are calling for extra funding from central Government to help meet the multi-million pound roads repair bill.

The Local Government Association (LGA) wants the Department for Transport to create a highways maintenance emergency fund following the recent spate of heavy rain and flooding.

But the Government said councils have been allocated their funding and should have created contingency funds themselves.

The LGA said the severe weather had caused further damage to already dilapidated highways.

An emergency fund was created following similar severe flooding in 2007 and was designed to help affected local authorities with capital funding for emergency and unforeseeable capital works to their local roads network.

However, the Government at the time had to increase borrowing to afford the fund; borrowing that added to the financial crisis that hit in 2008.

The LGA's environment and housing board chairman Mike Jones said: "The severe weather has left behind a daunting trail of destruction for councils to clear-up and fix.

"We were already facing a £10.5 billion repair backlog to bring our highways up to scratch and the damage to our roads by this recent flooding will be considerable and costly."

He went on: "An emergency highways maintenance fund would provide essential support to those councils who now face hefty and unexpected repair bills as a result of the flooding.

"This can only be achieved through extra government cash which covers repairs excluded from [the current Government help plan] the Bellwin Scheme."

Flood Recovery Minister Brandon Lewis said: "As communities start to recover from the recent severe weather, the Government is now fully focused on helping those affected get back on their feet.

"The Department for Transport is providing over £3.4 billion in this Parliament and over £5.8 billion in the next for local highways maintenance.

“It is the responsibility of [local] authorities to manage their highway assets and to ensure that they have appropriate contingencies in place to deal with any severe weather that may occur from time to time."


By Press Association reporter