Tories block scrutiny of highways maintenance

road_closure_imageI took a motion to Full Council last week. It was motivated by what seems to be a steady decline in the state of our roads and the observation that we are spending less on road maintenance year on year.

I thought it was a reasonable motion calling on Council to:

  • determine what investment would be needed in order to improve road conditions to a level whereby ongoing repairs are reduced;
  • secure such investment and associated resources to be able to carry it through; and
  • budget for a level of revenue spend which ensures that the investment can be supported.

Unfortunately the Tories thought otherwise and voted as a block against it.

That’s a pity because the Council’s own stats show that road conditions are declining and officers tell me that we are ‘managing decline’ and short of about £8million/year. You can’t of course magic that sort of money out of thin air, it would take a council tax rise of 3%, but at least you can determine how big the problem is an then work out how to address it.

One of the problems may be the Combined Authority. It’s now the lead transport authority and it gets the money from government for road maintenance before ‘passporting’ it to CCC. It’s also in line to get more money for somewhat fanciful infrastructure schemes. If just a small % of this could be directed at road maintenance we’d have our problem solved.

We’re fortunate in Cambridgeshire. We have a booming local economy but it’s not reflected in the state of our roads. If they’re not maintained they don’t just reflect badly on us they also contribute to congestion, they cost people money through adverse wear and tear, and they cause accidents. The issue needs to be addressed.

One of my colleagues at Council suggested that it should come straight and tell the county’s residents that they can only expect the condition of our roads to deteriorate. I can’t imagine we’ll get that sort of honesty.

Another said that we should go ahead and quantify the problem because then we’ve got a chance of getting support. Without doing so there’s no chance. He was right but the Tories just choose to ignore it.

Now why would they do that? Answers on a postcard please.


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