Potholes are black hole in Plymouth City Council's budget
COUNCIL officers have been ordered to find a better way to deal with potholes.
The city is being forced to pour millions of pounds into a bottomless pit to keep up with the crisis of crumbling roads and pavements.
The council estimates that it will need to increase revenue spending by £1.5million a year and capital spending by £7million just to keep the roads network as it is over the next 20 years.
"We need £3million to £4million just to stand still," Cllr Mark Coker, the city's Cabinet member for transport. "This is a real issue throughout the country."
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According to the Local Government Association the costs of repairing Britain's roads is estimated at £10billion."
"We have sent officers away to look at a fundamental review of the way we repair roads and pavements," Cllr Coker told a scrutiny panel examining Plymouth City Council's budget.
The transport and highways department is looking to spend £3.053million in the next year financial year on repairing roads.
But Cllr Kevin Wigens, the former Conservative Cabinet member for transport and a member of the scrutiny panel, wanted to know why the Labour administration had not maintained his own investment programme.
"There are roads where there are more potholes than road surface," he said.
"When we were in control we took a decision to try to get to grips with potholes. We decided to use an extra £3million to prioritise road surfaces. You obviously took a decision to not continue that programme."
Cllr Coker said he believed the Conservative administration had used the sale of Citybus to fund the pothole work.
"Unfortunately I don't have Citybus to sell."
Cllr Patrick Nicholson (Con, Plympton St Mary) said he had never had so many roads issues reported by people in his ward.
He questioned whether the council's contractor, Amey, was doing a good job, saying: "It seems to be a system based on complaints."
Clive Perkin, the assistant director for transport, said the council had a legal obligation to make roads safe within 24 hours of a problem being reported.
"That's perceived to be a permanent repair, but it's not, and we get a bad press."
Cllr Coker said potholes were not the only risks for his department's budget, Cllr Coker said. Concessionary bus fares and subsidised services continued to be a headache.
And Cllr Coker said he had no plans to switch off the street lights, in spite of their increasing cost. Instead, he was looking at a project to use energy-saving lights.