Drainage issues at flooding hotspots and pavement problems in Suffolk to be addressed in £20m boost for county's roads
An extra £20million of cash for Suffolk’s roads has been agreed, with pavement problems and road drainage issues set to be addressed.
Suffolk County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday agreed to invest £10m for an increased programme of drainage work on priority flooding spots, while an additional £10m will be spent on pavement repairs.
That is on top of the existing capital budgets for drainage and footways, which this year are £4.7m and £3.5m respectively.
Those improvements are set to take place over three-and-a-half years up to the end of March 2025.
Paul West, Conservative cabinet member for operational highways and flooding, said: “It’s perhaps fair to say in recent years – and I don’t think Suffolk is any different to anywhere in this respect – funding hasn’t kept pace with demand in the number of problems in terms of highway drainage and flooding issues.”
He added: “Committing this extra funding is a very welcome boost to our already significant improvement programmes in highways.
“The integrity of our county’s drainage systems and footpaths are incredibly important to our livelihoods; functioning drainage systems and well-paved paths support us all to safely travel for work, social or leisure purposes or to access essential services.
“£20m divided across drainage and footpath services will enable our highways teams to resolve more drainage issues, where there may be significant highway or property flooding; and footpath improvements to provide a safer and more accessible network in urban and busy rural areas. ”
The footpath work hopes to encourage more people to walk by focusing on the key paths in both town centre and rural areas, such as those leading to and from schools, health centres or shops.
The drainage work meanwhile will be in addition to the existing programme of flood drainage work and tackle some of the priority problem areas. It will also be spent on investigating newly reported problem areas.
Flooding on the county’s roads has been a particular problem with council officers confirming in March there is a 10-year backlog of more than 800 hotspots.
A meeting of the flood risk management committee in the spring heard that it could take £20m to halve that number.
Data published for last week’s full council meeting indicated that 66 flood spots had been sorted since April this year with 85 sites in the 2021/22 main programme for completed construction or design.
Sandy Martin, from the Labour group, said: “There are disincentives to walking and having enormous puddles at junctions where you get splashed with dirty water is one of the disincentives.
“It’s not just about having the money to do the work it’s also about making sure the road and footway surfaces at junctions are not lower than the level of the drain covers.”
The opposition Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group has questioned whether it is a symptom of underfunding in previous years, with group leader Andrew Stringer urging improvements in the flooding reporting tool.