More investment needed in our roads
Column by Coun Richard Davies, Executive member for highways on Lincolnshire County Council
Recently, the Asphalt Industry Alliance published their annual report on the state of roads across the country.
And I’m sure few of us will be surprised to hear that they found large numbers of rural roads were in need of urgent repair.
Here in Lincolnshire, everyday life relies on roads just like these, and they are vitally important for both our residents and businesses.
Over the years, through a combination of ever-increasing efficiency and the introduction of innovative techniques, the county council has ensured we get the greatest possible value from the funding we receive.
However, it is clear that, despite our best efforts, the only realistic remedy to the continuing deterioration of local roads at this stage is a significant increase in investment.
While the government has recently provided £5.1m of additional funding, primarily to help deal with the impact of the winter weather, this is simply nowhere near the hundreds of millions of pounds that would be needed to bring our roads back up to scratch. That is why I have written to Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, asking him to do more. Now I realise that many of my colleagues from other authorities around the country are undoubtedly making similar demands. However, I believe Lincolnshire is a special case. Our area has been chronically underfunded for years, with our residents continually being denied their fair share of government funding.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that we face additional costs compared to urban areas because our road network covers such a large geographical area. Although this disparity has been acknowledged in the past, no government has yet been brave enough to put an end this state of affairs. To give you an idea of the scale of the problem, if councils here received the average funding for council areas in England, the region would benefit from £116 million of extra funding every year.
Obviously, if we were to receive our fair share, it would make a considerable difference. So, I am asking the Secretary of State to readdress the balance. At the very least, you have the power to introduce a fairer way of sharing out the available highways funding, ensuring that areas like Lincolnshire are no longer short-changed.
Our residents have already waited far too long for someone to step up and do what's right. I'm hoping Chris Grayling is that person.