Hampshire County Council has today (Friday 13th January) given a cautious welcome to the Government’s announcement on investment in road repairs.
The investment is for structural road improvements but the County Council has highlighted an increasing pressure on funding for day to day road maintenance.
Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “This is welcome recognition for Hampshire’s long term, asset management approach, maintaining the roads in the most cost effective way. This is the approach we’ve taken for some time in Hampshire, investing around an extra £10million from our budget each year into our successful Operation Resilience programme to make the roads more resilient to the long term impact of heavy traffic and winter weather. This work has included hundreds of drainage improvements as well as footway works and road resurfacing across the county.”
In addition to Government funding announced last year, Hampshire has been awarded £5million for capital maintenance from the new National Productivity Investment Fund announced today. This is one of four separate funds for roads from which the Government has allocated money to councils: to improve the condition of roads, to help with potholes, to repair and maintain infrastructure, and to reward those authorities who have demonstrated best practice in improving the long term condition of the roads.
Councillor Humby continued: “I agree that the asset management approach is a sensible way to prioritise investment decisions and welcome the Government focus on funding for structural maintenance. However, continued reductions in Government revenue funding for councils is putting a squeeze on all council services and is leading to reductions in day to day maintenance work, such as grass cutting and weed spraying.
“Overall, it looks like the Government has given us £5million with one hand and taking away £5 million with the other. This means we can maintain the same level of spend on roads as in recent years but this is directed more than ever to long term capital improvement works leaving less resource for the day to day activities which I know are important to residents. With ever increasing traffic and the continued squeeze on council budgets, I believe the time is right for the Government to look at the significant sums it receives from motoring taxes and gives councils the revenue and capital resources to maintain the critical infrastructure that supports local communities and keeps the national economy going.”