£2.6 million pot for Bolton’s potholes, pavements and playgrounds
A welcome but surprising cash injection has been announced for Bolton’s roads. After years of shrinking budgets and potholed roads MARY NAYLOR looks at where this money has come from and how the council intends to spend it.
£2.6 MILLION could be spent on much needed improvements for Bolton’s roads and parks.
The money would be split between the highways and pavements, improving public spaces such as play areas, and encouraging people to take better care of the environment.
The spending is due to be approved by councillors next week after £4 million became available.
The money has been freed up from The Octagon’s refurbishment project because of a £100 million loan the council has been able to take out for its town centre regeneration masterplan after its success in attracting investors to the scheme.
Previously, £4 million from the council’s budget was earmarked to help with the £10 million refurbishment and upgrade of the theatre.
With this money instead coming from the loan, the council plans to spend some of it on improving the road network and other public spaces which have suffered the effects of harsh winters and a shrinking council budget.
£1 million has been earmarked for the roads and pavements — each ward will receive £50,000, replacing £9,600 previously allocated for area forums. The £50,000 can be spent on a number of already agreed and costed roads which need improvement.
These upgrades will be in addition to around £2.5 million of agreed spending on the highways.
In September it was revealed Bolton had the second highest damage compensation bill in Greater Manchester and the second highest number of complaints about potholes and damaged carriageways.
Complaints about potholes on the borough’s roads rose by 5,000 in just 12 months to 7,119 in 2017/18 and the total amount of money paid out for damage claims also increased sharply from £8,731 to £16,940 in the same period.
A further £1.1 million will be spent improving public spaces and streets. This could include upgrading footpaths or play areas. The money will not be used for additional play areas.
It has been split between the wards according to a deprivation formula. Rumworth would receive the most with £153,890.73, then Farnworth (£139,321.19) and Halliwell (£137,500).
The wards receiving the lowest allocations from the pot are Horwich and Blackrod (£7,284.77) and Heaton and Lostock (£1,821.19). Bromley Cross won’t receive any money.
There would be a further £500,000 to support initiatives to change people’s behaviour around fly-tipping, littering and recycling. The council’s efforts so far have helped to improve the borough’s recycling rate from 39 per cent to 47 per cent.
It has not been announced where the £4 million would be spent.
Cllr Thomas added: “This fund is one way we can make a difference to our town, to make it a more attractive environment to live and work in.
“Our community spaces are hugely important to all of us and while we recognise that while this fund won’t solve everything, it will help local communities to get some of their priority road schemes and environmental projects done and improved.
“We believe that giving the forums extra money to spend on improvements makes sense.
“The best people to identify the worst issues are those who live in the local community. They are the ones who walk past or drive over them daily. Helping to improve the local environment in consultation with the public is good news for everyone.”
The Conservative group on Bolton Council has been pressing for a £10 million programme of spending on roads. Conservative group leader Cllr David Greenhalgh said: “Labour often accuses Government funding as a sticking plaster. Well this is clearly this Labour Council’s very own sticking plaster on an issue that needs prioritisation.”
“While I welcome any additional spend on our highways, and am pleased that Labour are reacting to Conservative calls for extra funding for roads and pavements, it is not enough, and a Conservative led Council would allocate far more.”
“The roads and pavements in this borough, particularly within residential estates, need urgent attention, and Conservatives would deliver a programme of an extra £10million of repairs.”
Bolton Council’s Cabinet is expected to approve the fund on Monday.
Council leader Cllr Linda Thomas said: “The success we’ve had in attracting major developers to be part of our Town Centre Masterplan means that we’ve been able to set aside this capital. It’s a great example of how a successful town centre plan can make a real difference to all of our communities.”