Government gives an extra £585,000 for road repairs in Plymouth
PLYMOUTH is to receive almost £600,000 extra for essential road repairs, the Government has announced.
The £585,000 is the city's share of a £215 million transport fund for highway maintenance.
It forms part of the additional £333 million earmarked for roads in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement.
The Government says this is on top of the £3 billion funding already allocated for highways maintenance up to 2015, although the Local Government Association point out this is £442 million less than councils would have received over the same period based on 2010/11 funding levels.
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From the additional money, Plymouth will net £383,000 in the coming year and £202,000 in 2014/15. The extra cash can be used for improvements such as road resurfacing, maintenance to bridges or repairing damage caused by severe weather, such as the recent flooding.
However, given the maintenance backlog faced by many local authorities and funding cuts, critics point out it represents a fraction of the total amount needed to bring roads up to scratch.
Publishing the funding allocations, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "This extra money will support economic growth and development by helping local authorities to get the best out of their local road networks.
"This funding can be spent on measures to bring smoother, safer and more reliable journeys to the travelling public whether they are commuting to work or taking the children to school."
To help residents see where the money has been spent, a condition of the funding will be that local authorities have to publish a short statement on their websites at the end of each financial year setting out what and where this additional funding has gone.
But a spokesman for the LGA, which represents councils across the country, said: "Decades of underfunding, recent severe winters and widespread flooding has left large swathes of our roads in disrepair with many councils struggling to move beyond simply patching up a deteriorating network. It's estimated that it would now cost £10 billion to bring our roads up-to-scratch.
"This extra £215 million is much needed and will help off-set the half-a-billion pound cut to roads maintenance funding which councils were facing during 2011 to 2015.
"However, there is still a long way to go and councils need increased and consistent funding to invest in the widespread resurfacing projects which our network desperately needs."
A parliamentary report recently revealed the South West had the lowest public spending per head on transport in England.
The dossier compiled for MPs also showed the region came second from bottom in terms of total expenditure on transport.
After London, with spending of £774 per head in 2010/11, the two regions paying out the next highest amounts were the North West - £337 per head - and the East - £328 per head.
The paper by the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit found the area with the lowest transport spending was the South West at £212 per head. Figures from local MPs provided earlier this month put that figure at £184 per person.
A council spokesman, said: "We welcome this extra funding, which will be used to carry out additional permanent repairs to footways and carriageways and help to improve the condition of the city's highway network."