Newcastle City Council says maintenance repair bill has risen by £70m in three years

Newscastle City Council has said its bill for fixing deteriorating roads and pavements has risen by almost £70 million over the last three years.

The last estimate in 2018 put the figure at £116 million, but civic centre officials say that “ageing infrastructure and increased costs” mean that completing the backlog on crumbling footpaths alone would now cost £109 million.

Coun Arlene Ainsley, the council’s cabinet member for transport and air quality, said: “Our city needs £184 million to make repairs to our highways and footpaths, as lack of government funding has allowed them to fall into disrepair.

“We have made significant improvements to our highways, but there has been a sharp increase in the need to repair footpaths, due to the ageing infrastructure and increased costs in maintaining them. This alone would require £109 million.”

The Department for Transport confirmed allocations for £500 million of cash to repair potholes last month, the second of five instalments from the £2.5 billion Potholes Fund announced by Rishi Sunak last year, promising it would be enough to make 10 million repairs across the country.

But Newcastle’s allocation of road maintenance funding from the government is dropping by 30% in 2021/22 – down from £4.8 million to £3.4 million, said a report by the Chronicle Live.

Cllr Ainsley added: “Once again, this Conservative government is short-changing Newcastle. Potholes are the scourge of our roads – they cause widespread damage to cars and bikes. The Chancellor promised they would all soon be gone – then cut the fund to get rid of them. That sums this government up.

“How is it they can afford billions in crony contracts for their friends but when it comes to fixing the roads we rely on in Newcastle, they tell us the cupboard is bare. It’s either incompetence or the wrong priorities – or a bit of both. Whatever it is, this chaos is holding our area back and it has to stop.”

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