Cash pledge ‘does not go far enough’ to repair damage to region’s roads

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A PLEA for help to avert a “crisis” on Yorkshire’s roads was partially answered yesterday with a promise of an extra £200m to fix potholes.

Councils will be able to bid for a share of the money which has been promised after a series of winters that have severely damaged roads and cash-strapped authorities complain they cannot afford the repairs.

The new money was welcome but there were warnings it will not come close to solving the problem.

North Yorkshire County Council leader John Weighell recently told the Government the county will spend £28m on repairs to its road network which covers a vast rural area this year when it needs to spend £60m.

Coun Weighell said: “The devil will be in the detail. If it’s given out on the basis of population we are around one per cent but on length of roads we rate about three per cent so it would be nice if it were related to that.

“We have all been putting pressure on over this issue and we are the third biggest highway authority in the country.

“It looks like good news and it would mean a lot to us, particular for our minor roads where there is the greatest problems.”

The county council has added an extra £5m into its budget for road repairs this year and challenged the Government to match it with a further £5m.

A survey by the Local Government Association found the average English council was £6.2m short of what it needed to properly maintain its roads.

Coun Tony Ball, vice chairman of the LGA’s economy and transport board, said: “The situation is getting worse every year because of a £500m annual funding shortfall.

“This announcement does not go anywhere near far enough.

“We urge Government to provide a full and comprehensive package, including the resurfacing of roads, rather than funding in dribs and drabs.”

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The drip, drip of funding does not address the £10bn road maintenance backlog that councils themselves have identified.

“It is also disappointing that this money has to be bid for. This creates a bureaucratic burden and means not all councils and drivers will see the benefits.”

There were no Yorkshire road schemes included in the Budget but Mr Osborne offered to fund a study looking at improvements to the A1 north of Newcastle and confirmed funding for a new bridge on the Mersey.

After a winter which saw the country battered by storms and extensive flooding the Chancellor also announced an additional £140m to repair and maintain flood defences.