Potholes are ‘top priority’ as Devon granted record-breaking £19m road maintenance boost
Devon has been allocated a record-breaking £18.75 million for road maintenance.
The announcement came yesterday from the Government and has been welcomed by local politicians.
Devon received the highest share of any local authority in the country from the £420 million national pot, which was announced by the Chancellor in the Budget.
And one Devon MP has said that fixing pesky potholes will be the “top priority”.
North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones met Devon County Council leader John Hart yesterday (28 November) after the announcement.
The pair met to discuss how the money will be used, and the MP says he lobbied hard for North Devon to get its fair share.
Following the meeting, Peter Heaton-Jones said: “This is a huge bonus for our area. In the Budget, the Chancellor announced a cash injection of £420 million for road maintenance across England, but it was unclear at first how much Devon would get.
“It’s obvious that all the lobbying has paid off because we now know Devon will get more than any other local authority in the country.
“Our record-breaking grant of almost £19 million is very welcome indeed.
“At our meeting I pressed John Hart to ensure that North Devon gets our fair slice of the cake and that pothole repairs will be the top priority.
“Potholes are often the bane of people’s lives, and the problem has been particularly bad recently because of the freezing winter and baking summer which damaged road surfaces.
“The county council has reduced the number of potholes recently thanks to extra government funding. But this new money – which can also be used for other minor roadworks and local bridge repairs – will mean yet further improvements are possible.
“John and I agreed that this news was extremely welcome, and I impressed on him the importance of North Devon getting our fair share.
“I look forward to significant improvements to our roads – especially in rural areas – very soon”.
Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management said: “I welcome this funding from the Department for Transport. We are currently looking at the terms and conditions of the fund to determine the best way to invest this money to achieve the maximum benefit for Devon.”
Speaking at Tuesday’s Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Committee, Meg Booth, Chief Officer for Highways, Infrastructure Development and Waste for Devon Council, said that the money from Government had to be spent on capital funds for roads or bridges. She said: “The money isn’t there to be spent on filling potholes but long term interventions. It is capital funding so we have to do a larger intervention than just filling potholes, so it would be for a road resurfacing scheme.
“We haven’t decided yet what we are going to do with the capital injection of cash yet, but we have to explain to the Government by March 2019 how we will deal with the money. It is impossible for us to to spend it by then, but once we have decided what to do, we plan to spend it in the last quarter of this financial year and in the next financial year.
“We also have a backlog on repair to bridges, not just on roads, so we do also have to work out how much going to roads and how much to bridges.
“We will be spending the money wisely though once we have decided where it is going.”
Roads Minister Jesse Noman said: “Potholes are a huge problem for all road users, and too often we see issues occurring at the same place time after time.
“That is why the Government is investing more in improving our roads than at any time before – £15 billion between 2015 and 2020 and a further £28.8 billion to 2025. Plus an immediate extra £420 million for potholes and local road maintenance just this year.
“The South West will be getting an extra £71 million this winter to keep its roads in good condition to keep drivers and cyclists safe.”