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Suffolk Highways calls for 'fairer share' of funding for road maintenance



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Potholes. (6309991)
Potholes. (6309991)

Fresh lobbying for fairer highways funding is set to be pursued by Suffolk Highways.

In May, Suffolk Highways revealed it was operating on around 30 per cent of the budget needed to carry out the work needed to maintain Suffolk’s roads, forcing it to prioritise what maintenance was carried out.

Mary Evans, Conservative cabinet member for highways, said this month that the county needed a fairer share of the funding pot.

“We do raise [the issue] and we are hopeful that our case has been heard,” she said following December’s scrutiny committee.

“We will find out if there is going to be a spending review this year and, to gear up for that, we will stress to MPs that more money is needed.

“But I am conscious of the pressures on social services and children’s services.”

Suffolk County Council has announced a series of cuts designed to save around £11 million this year, with winter gritting and out-of-hours standby being reduced, while there will be less money for rural bus services and roadside bus timetables will be ceased.

Road sign cleaning will also stop, with only mandatory road markings being maintained.

It has led to the council pursuing the Community Self Help scheme, which will allow parish and town councils to carry out low-level roadworks, expected to be launched in the coming months.

Finance cabinet member Richard Smith said it was vital to protect children’s and adult care services from the cutbacks.

But Sudbury’s Labour councillor Jack Owen, opposition highways spokesman, said he was sceptical that any more funding would be forthcoming.

“They are saying what people want to hear,” he said. “Quite frankly, they have been lobbying all the way through [this government].

“While there’s no harm in it, I am not sure it’s going to achieve anything.”

Cllr Owen said the uncertainty over Brexit meant it was going to be difficult to make a commitment to anything until the Government resolved that matter.

Suffolk received £9.6 million in the Chancellor’s autumn statement for pothole and road repairs, with some cash being put towards technology that will repair potholes using existing asphalt on the road.