New figures show that Bath and North East Somerset Council is bucking the national trend with major additional investment on improving its highways.
Figures revealed by a BBC survey of local authorities throughout England show that Councils are spending, on average, approximately an extra 0.5% on their highways budgets this year. In contrast, B&NES Council is putting an extra 43% into its highways budget this year after Conservative budget proposals were agreed by the Council last month. The money is a combination of both revenue and capital spending, with the amount specifically allocated to road maintenance almost doubled from last year.
The Conservative-run Council is putting in an additional £3 million to tackle pot-holes and poor road surfaces throughout the authority over the coming year. £500,000 of this has been brought forward to the current financial year in order to address the major problems caused by the severe weather in January.
The BBC survey showed that Councils throughout the country are having to tighten their belts in the face of a major funding squeeze expected over the coming years. Conservative Councillors in B&NES have argued that investing in improving roads now will save money in future years by tackling underlying highways problems before they create even more pot-holes.
Cllr Charles Gerrish (Cons, Keynsham North), B&NES Cabinet Member with responsibility for Highways, said:
“There remain significant issues on our area’s highways resulting from the freezing weather over the winter and historic under-investment in road maintenance. It’s clear that local residents view tackling pot-holes as a high priority. That’s why the Conservatives have allocated such a major increase in the Highway Maintenance budget for this year despite lack of additional Government support.
“It’s clear from the BBC survey that all Councils are preparing for very tough financial times ahead, and here in B&NES we believe that by investing more in our roads now we can save of maintenance costs in future.”