York councillors speak out against road fund reductions

Councillors have hit out at new research which shows York’s allocation of national road repair funding has been slashed by almost a third by central government.

In 2020/21 York received a total of £4m towards highways maintenance from central government.

The council says this was cut by 29.5% (£1.2m) to £2.8m in 2021/22 and this considerably smaller allocation has now been frozen for 3 years, reports the York Press.

As repair costs are rising due to inflation and poor weather conditions, this freeze will further mean a real-terms cut every single year.

The loss of more than a million pounds a year is approximately equal to filling nearly 19 thousand potholes, councillors say.

Despite these cuts, this year’s budget by the Liberal Democrat-Green-run council proposes to invest twice as much as the national allocation to maintain and repair roads.

This amounts to £5.6m for 2023/24, from City of York Council’s funds.

Councillor Stephen Fenton, transport spokesperson for the Liberal Democrat group, commented: “The job of repairing our roads is being made so much harder by these short-sighted funding cuts.

“After passing on a frankly inconceivable reduction of nearly a third, the Government has now frozen funding at this low level just as costs are skyrocketing.

“This will simply put further pressure on already stretched council budgets and will see repair backlogs continue to rise.

“Councils rely on this funding to carry out vitally important road repairs and maintain the condition of roads, which affect all users, including pedestrians and cyclists. With a backlog of road repairs and skyrocketing labour and material costs, these cuts will see this work made increasingly challenging.”

He added: “We need to have real, long-term funding that allows councils to undertake planned maintenance and not just emergency repairs.

“The longer it takes for the funding to be put in place to tackle the backlog of repairs, the more it is going to cost to put it right in the future.”

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