Council to borrow almost £200m to fix Liverpool’s road crisis
Liverpool City Council is set to borrow close to £200million to spend on road repairs in a landmark investment aimed at tackling the crisis facing the city’s road network.
The cash-strapped city council said it has ‘no option’ but to borrow the huge amount after savage government cuts have left it unable to deal with the huge backlog of repair jobs or carry out the vital reconstruction work needed to make Liverpool’s roads fit for purpose .
Mayor Joe Anderson plans to borrow a total of £185m over the next 25 years at low interest rates – the same type of loan that he intends to use to help fund a new Everton stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock .
The rest of the cash is being raised through savings generated by the council’s transformation plan and Mayor Anderson’s ‘Invest to Earn’ strategy, which aims to create income streams from commercialising council assets.
So where will the £200m war chest be spent?
The bulk of the new cash – £160m – will be spent on major road reconstruction projects over the next five years.
A further £25m will be put into resurfacing and patching work on the city’s worst affected roads.
Finally, there will be a dedicated £15m fund specifically for addressing potholes on the city’s roads.
The council hopes that the £200million package will radically improve the condition of roads across the city and is a response to years of chronic underfunding, following swingeing Central Government cuts of £444million to the city council’s budget since 2010.
A recent peer review by the Local Government Association found Liverpool City Council had prudent levels of debt for one of the major ‘core cities’ and robust financial management processes in place.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, explained: “I drive on the same roads as everyone else, so there is no-one more aware of the problem that me. This major new investment in our highways – £200million – is a response to the scale of the problem we face.
“The people of Liverpool can be assured that we have been lobbying the government consistently in recent years to help us fix the problem, but it’s clear from the Chancellor’s recent spring statement there is no reprieve from the Government’s austerity programme.”
He added: “We cannot wait for help to arrive, so I have decided that we will take action to address the problem of potholes and poor road surfaces with this major new investment, which will radically transform the quality of our road network across the city.
“High-quality roads are the arteries of a modern, fast-growing city like Liverpool, but I am also concerned about the safety of road users and I don’t want to see anyone injured or killed due to weaving around potholes.”
He added: “This investment is also good news because it will create jobs in the city as well as generating new apprenticeship opportunities.
“Ultimately, doing nothing is just not an option as far as I am concerned. Clearly, the deteriorating state of our roads is a national problem, but to do nothing in Liverpool will simply see the cost of fixing our roads soar in future years. This is why we must act now.”