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Suffolk Labour describes pothole blight as 'poor advert for county' as road repairs budget revealed

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Potholes. (8002516)
Potholes. (8002516)

Suffolk’s pothole blight has been described as a “poor advert for our county” as latest figures show the county spends the least on pothole repairs in East Anglia.

Data presented to Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee earlier this month showed an estimated £3.3 million budget was allocated by the authority for pothole repairs, compared to £3.4 million for Cambridgeshire, £6.8 million for Essex and £7.7 million for Norfolk.

Coupled with the council’s budget announcement for 2019/20, where savings would be made from highways services such as winter gritting and road sign painting, the latest figures have prompted fresh questions over whether Suffolk taxpayers are getting value for money.

Sudbury councillor Jack Owen, Labour highways spokesman, said: “Everyone who uses Suffolk’s roads knows that they are a mess – potholes blight each and every journey that is made by residents and, frankly, it is a bit embarrassing when visitors come and see the state of our roads. It’s a pretty poor advert for our county.

“These figures beg the question as to whether Suffolk’s taxpayers are getting any value for money in comparison with our neighbours?

“Suffolk’s taxpayers are paying the council more and more, but our roads seem to get worse and worse.”

A harsh winter early in 2018 left the council having to blitz pothole repairs – including some with short-term temporary fills.

An extra £9 million pot announced by the Chancellor in his budget last year has been used to invest in new thermal patching pothole repair kits, which have completed more than 2,700 repairs since December.

A council spokeswoman said: “It is hard to draw any conclusions from these statistics as each authority has its own approach to managing the service.

“Each county also has different traffic levels, length of different road types and competing maintenance needs for its entirely different sets of highway infrastructure, such as bridges, street lighting, footways and drainage systems, each in varying overall condition, which they will consider when setting the budget.

“Suffolk’s budget was set to ensure that our reactive maintenance service was sufficient to maintain the county’s roads in a reasonably safe and usable condition and to ensure that repairs are efficient and sustainable.”