£2m funding boost to fix Staffordshire’s roads
Burton’s pothole woes look set to be eased with a new £2 million funding pot launched to fix Staffordshire’s roads.
County councillors will be able to prioritise fixing defects using the cash, which is part of a £4.8m share of the Department for Transport’s pothole fund allocated to the authority.
It comes after years of motorists tearing their hair out over East Staffordshire’s crumbling roads, with the county council paying out £134,296.52 in compensation for damage to vehicles in 2022.
Wetmore Road had previously been described by some as the ‘worst road in the UK’ for potholes. Meanwhile, just weeks ago, one fed-up motorist made their point by spray-painting penis images around the pothole-laden Ashby roundabout in Winshill at the top of Brizlincote Valley.
The new scheme is on top of a previously announced £5m investment for road repairs, bolstering the county council’s existing Divisional Highways Programme.
This enables county councillors to work with residents, parish councils and other community organisations to identify improvements to be made in their areas, such as signage, maintenance or measures to address road safety concerns.
Cabinet member for highways David Williams said: “This new fund will help local communities and organisations bring their highways issues to the attention of local members. Local members know their individual areas incredibly well, and are in the best place to be able to determine what highways issues need to be tackled, in partnership with local people.
“Defects affect everyone, but we must prioritise those that are the most dangerous. Even so, we recognise that there may be lower-level defects that affect local areas and is what this fund is for.”
Fixing more roads is part of the authority’s corporate delivery plan for 2023/24. Council leader Alan White said: “In the MTFS (Medium Term Financial Strategy) process, fixing more roads was a key component of what we intended to achieve.
“Over the course of many years the amount we have been allocated from central Government has come down and that in part plays into the amount we can put into the roads. But we have decided to put taxpayers’ money over and above that into the roads in order to right the situation.
“Now we are firmly in the middle of spring, the natural beauty of our county is in full bloom. Springtime and better weather also allow our highways crews to get out and fix our roads, which take a battering during the winter.
“We hear people’s frustration with the condition of our highways. That’s why we are spending an extra £5m on our annual spring blitz, to fill more potholes.
“It’s part of the extra £30m we will spend on our highways this year and next to repair and resurface, and clean more drains. It’s a big challenge, with rising costs and a huge road network, but one of our top priorities.”
Councillor Mike Worthington, speaking at a scrutiny committee this month, said: “On the election trail it was all about potholes. The A520 runs from Stoke-on-Trent into Leek and I had a price off James Bailey (the council’s assistant director for highways) he needs £1m to put right the mess I’m in in Cheddleton.”
Councillor White responded: “I think every county councillor would like the entire £15m spent in their division – sadly it’s not possible. What we are doing is the transformation programme for highways and there have been some key moves around bringing inspectors in-house so that (contractor) Amey doesn’t mark its own homework, really driving down on specific highways works within members’ divisions and making sure they are done in an affordable and reasonable way.
“We can all think of cases where the amount having to be spent on the preamble, the plans and the feasibility studies left a busted flush. I get all that and we are working to rectify that.”