Council leader hits out at Government pot hole funding

Council chiefs say more money is needed to tackle the borough's roads
Council chiefs say more money is needed to tackle the borough's roads
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The leader of St Helens Council hit out at the “appalling” lack of Government pot hole funding.

For 2018-19, the council will receive £ 1.9 million for highways maintenance from the Department for Transport and allocated by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

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The council will also receive an additional £640,000 from the LCRCA as part of its Integrated Transport Block.

Earlier this year, the council received £129,000 from an emergency £100 million government pothole fund due to the severe winter weather.

Coun Lynn Clarke, cabinet member for better neighbourhoods, told cabinet this week that since April 1, the authority has used the extra funding to fill more than 700 potholes using a dedicated repair team.

She said the council has received further funding of £259,687 for 2018-19, which will be used to deliver a micro asphalt programme later this month.

Despite the extra funding, council leader Derek Long said it is still is “immensely short” of the estimated £6 million a year the authority requires to maintain its highways.

“That’s the gap between what government should be funding us or should be creating a situation whereby we can find ourselves, and actually what we need,” he said.

“And that’s a scandalous drag in terms of this society.

“Not withstanding all the high-profile announcements made in terms of that, we ultimately need £6 million and that’s an appalling situation in which to find ourselves.

“And we will do our best of it and we will draw together what help we do get from government, but it’s way, way short of what we need as an authority.”

Coun Andy Bowden, ward councillor for Parr and deputy leader of the council, said the government “does not care”.

He said: “While that investment is to be acknowledged form central government to do those individual pots, it’s nothing to what we’ve lost.

“Why on earth should we welcome funds from a table from a government that does not care?”

The council’s capital and revenue programme of works for 2018-19 says the Combined Authority is supporting an “extensive programme” of investment across the City Region.

This is being funded through its Single Investment Fund, through successive Local Growth Fund allocations.

St Helens Council was successful in securing funding through the Local Growth Fund for schemes at A570/A580 Windle Island, Newton-le-Willows Station and A570 Linkway South.

The council has also been successful in securing £2.85 million for junction improvements at Haydock Lane/East Lancs Road, which will form the gateway to the Florida Farm North Development.

A further £2.68 million has been allocated via the Single Investment Fund for junction improvements to the A58/A580, which is anticipated to commence in March 2019.

Coun Clarke said the council has also secured £1 million from the DfT to improve highway safety on the A57 (Warrington Road) between Lingley Green and the M62 Junction 7 at Rainhill Stoops in 2019-20.

Cabinet approved the programme of works on Wednesday.

Cllr Clarke added: “We continue to maximise these capital and revenue budgets in order to fulfil our statutory obligations.

“But the incremental reduction in funding since 2010-11 can now be seen in the condition of our roads.”

Kenny Lomas , Local Democracy Reporting Service