Government funding for highways just a fraction of what’s needed
Telford & Wrekin Council joins a chorus of discontent after Government capital funding for the country’s roads is slashed.
The Department for Transport has announced capital funding of £1.385bn for local road maintenance and pothole filling across the country for 2021/22, a £400m reduction on last year’s allocation of £1.783bn.
For Telford and Wrekin, the overall allocation has been slashed by 21% to £5.26m – £1.4m less than the current year.
Severe weather and increased traffic continue to impact on the nation’s aging infrastructure, and councils rely on this capital funding to ensure their road and footpath networks are kept in good condition.
Like other areas, the Council’s planned investment for this year was based on an expected level of funding from the Government which hasn’t been delivered.
The four year plan to invest £50m to ‘Keep Telford Moving’ is due to be approved by the Council’s cabinet on Thursday (18 February). As well as setting out the ‘assumed’ level of Government funding, the plan sets out the Council’s own capital investment to improve and maintain Telford and Wrekin’s roads and footpaths over the next 12 months.
Cllr Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhood, commercial services and regeneration, said: “We have long prioritised funding for our local roads and footpaths, but further funding from Government is crucial to maintain and improve the condition of our roads in the future.
“The majority of journeys start and end on local roads, so a strong, well maintained highways infrastructure is vital to keep our borough moving so that we can all go about our daily business safely.
“Our allocation from Government is a fraction of what’s needed when you consider the investment needed to maintain everything up to standard. We had expected to receive a similar allocation from Government for this year, but it is woefully less than that.
“The Government needs to do more though. It needs a long-term plan for investing in our local road networks. This cut comes just weeks before work is due to start, it’s short-sighted and totally contradictory to the Government’s desire that we keep growing as a borough. Local drivers pay tens if not hundreds of millions to the Treasury in road licence fund, yet Telford and Wrekin receives a fraction in return, which is being reduced even further by this cut.”
Although the Council is still hoping to deliver the improvement schemes set out in its planned 2021/22 Pride in Our Community investment programme, it warns it may have no choice but to prioritise schemes if unexpected highways maintenance jobs need fixing.