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East of England ‘poor relation’ to London over cash to fix roads

PUBLISHED: 08:06 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:07 14 January 2020

The East of England does not get as much money to invest in roads as London. Pic: Danny Lawson/PA.

The East of England does not get as much money to invest in roads as London. Pic: Danny Lawson/PA.

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Council leaders have said there a huge disparity between how much is spent fixing roads and pot-holes in London, compared to roads in the East of England.

David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network. Pic: County Councils Network.David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network. Pic: County Councils Network.

Analysis by the County Councils Network (CCN), which produced the research, said government funding meant councils in the East were able to spend £27,222 per mile of road, compared to £62,350 by councils in London.

The 36 urban metropolitan councils spent £41,929 per mile, with leaders of England's county authorities, such as Norfolk, calling for a long-term commitment to 'level up' investment in the shires.

Regionally, the analysis shows that councils in London plan to spend double the amount of almost every single region in England.

Per mile expenditure is lowest in the East Midlands (£21,276), followed by the North East (£22,403) and the South West (£23,550). Even regions with higher planned investment, such as the West Midlands (£34,049) and North West (£33,770), have a per mile expenditure that is 45pc lower than the capital.

Roads funding by region. Pic: County Councils Network.Roads funding by region. Pic: County Councils Network.

County leaders say that they know it is vital their local roads are kept in a good condition, but lack the funding required to carry out complete repairs, whilst the capital and other major cities benefit from more generous funding for more comprehensive pothole filling and anti-congestion schemes.

The new government has pledged to make £2bn available for filling potholes over the next four years, as outlined in the Conservative manifesto and council leaders have called for shires to get their fair share of that fund.

David Williams, County Councils Network chairman, said: "The scourge of potholes and gridlocked roads are amongst the biggest local issues council leaders find in their mailboxes every week, affecting motorists, cyclists and local businesses alike.

"We know how important it is to keep our roads in a good condition, and we do our utmost to fill defects, upgrade routes and invest in new infrastructure despite the challenging financial circumstances faced by councils.

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"But today's analysis shows that county motorists are clearly the poor relation to drivers in London and other cities areas when it comes to how much gets spent on fixing potholes and improving the local road network, with drivers across the country facing a pothole lottery, even within regions.

"Due to more generous day-to-day funding and infrastructure investment, cities and urban areas are in a position to spend disproportionate amounts in keeping their roads maintained or upgraded compared to councils in counties. This is despite far more of our road network in the shires requiring repairs and improvements.

"The government's £2bn pothole fund and commitment to level up infrastructure are therefore extremely welcome.

"These findings show that it is imperative our areas receive a fair share of the government's new fund, in proportion to the number of miles we are responsible for, while ensuring the longer-term commitment to level up funding for national infrastructure doesn't bypass county areas that stretch across the length and breadth of England and are the vital arteries for those 'left-behind' towns.

"County local authorities showed themselves able to spend the pothole money made available in the 2018 budget quickly with significant results - repairing well over 2,000 roads. Should we receive a similar proportion of funds from this tranche of money, we will endeavour to do even more for our motorists."

However, Norfolk was ranked top of 28 similar councils in a national independent survey which looks at satisfaction with highways and transport services last year.

Some 33,000 Norfolk people were chosen at random to rate a range of highways and transportation services in the National Highways and Transport Survey, carried out each year by Ipsos MORI.

In 2018, Norfolk came fourth, but in 2019, it took top spot.

People were asked to rate the council's performance in six areas - road maintenance, public transport, walking and cycling, congestion, accessibility and road safety.

The council performed above the national average in five of the six categories. The only category where Norfolk fared below the national average was in public transport.


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