Plymouth ran out of money to fix potholes six weeks ago
Plymouth City Council ran out of money to fill in potholes six weeks ago.
Councillor Mark Coker, Cabinet member for transport, said: “We ran out of money for potholes six weeks ago. It was a shock.”
Now finance chief Councillor Mark Lowry has had to find an emergency £250,000 to allow roads maintenance in Plymouth to continue until the end of the financial year in March. “We have introduced an extra £250,000 as a result of lobbying by Mr Coker,” he told a Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Cllr Lowry, the Cabinet member for finance, blamed the previous Conservative administration, which he said had cut £360,000 from the roads maintenance budget last spring.
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Cllr Coker said: “Last year £960,000 was put aside for pothole repairs, but this was cut by £360,000 in February, by the previous administration. Altogether there was a budget for roads maintenance of £1.7million, which was then cut to £1.34million by the Conservatives. I have been fighting for extra money.”
Cllr Kevin Wigens, the previous Conservative Cabinet member for transport, denied that his budget had been slashed in the spring. “Which ever way you cut and dissect it, we poured money into the roads maintenance budget.
“If they are saying on some technicality that we took some money out, we put ten times that back in.
“I certainly wasn’t aware of any money being taken out of the budget and I don’t believe that to be the case.
“For me, and for the Cabinet as a whole, roads maintenance and everything to do with roads maintenance was an absolute priority.”
Cllr Ian Bowyer, the former Cabinet member for finance, said: “I put in place £3million of extra resources to deal with potholes, mainly by resurfacing some roads. A £360,000 cut certainly doesn’t ring any bells with me.”
Cllr Coker said Plymouth’s problems were being repeated across the country, and the Local Government Association was lobbying the Government for more funding.
Cllr Lowry said he would also lobby for more roads cash next year. “It doesn’t make sense to allow roads to continue to deteriorate. The state of our roads is a big factor in saying to the outside world what we are about.”
Cllr Coker said he did not know how many potholes still needed to be filled. But he said he had asked Amey, the council’s roads contractor, to do a review and to estimate how much it would cost to fill every pothole that needs filling. A report to the Cabinet yesterday revealed changes to the council’s programme of capital spending.
This year’s planned spending has been reduced to £60million, with proposals to increase that to £130million by 2015/16.
Work to create Saltram Countryside Park, which would cost £374,000, has been shifted into next year’s capital budget. Traffic schemes worth £124,000 have also be put back by a year, as has the £200,000 spending on upgrading the Chelson Meadow recycling plant.
The £713,000 spending on Broadley Park Traveller site will now be spread over the next three years.