Call for clarity over Norfolk pot-hole cash

Leaders at Norfolk County Council have called on the government to let them know how much cash the c

Leaders at Norfolk County Council have called on the government to let them know how much cash the county will be getting to help fix roads. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Show us the money - that's the appeal from council leaders who say unless the government tells them how much extra it will give Norfolk to fix its pot-hole filled roads, desperately needed work will not take place this year.

In last month's spending review, the government said almost £6bn would be handed to local authorities over the next six years to repair the local road network.

But the government has yet to reveal where that money will be heading and leaders at Norfolk County Council, who have an £82.5m backlog on road repairs, fear that will prevent a bigger programme of maintenance work on the county's roads this year.

The council is spending £9m to surface dress some of the 6,000 miles of county roads this summer, with some of the work already taking place across the county.

However, a report which will come before councillors next week reveals around £36m would be needed to keep roads in reasonable condition this year, and the structural maintenance budget is short of that at £27.6m.

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Rather than making long-term repairs to roads, the council has, in many cases, had to make do with lower cost treatments, such as the surface dressing programme.

That is where the roads are coated to prevent water from causing further damage, such as opening up pot-holes.

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And David Harrison, cabinet member for environment, transport, development and waste at Norfolk County Council, said the council could do with knowing what sums of money might be available for further work.

He said: 'Clearly these are challenging times, and we are glad that in last month's spending review the government recognised the pressing need and announced extra money for road maintenance.

'We are keen to know what Norfolk's share will be so that we can plan to use it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

'However, we have to accept that the budget will still be very tight, and our challenge is to use every penny wisely so that roads remain in reasonable and safe condition.

'Once again this summer we have a large surface dressing programme, already costing over £9m, and although a coating of bitumen and chippings does not give the quality of finish of full resurfacing, it is much cheaper and very effective at preventing pot holes.

'Extra funding may allow for a larger programme, but if it is to be carried out this year we need to know Norfolk's allocation as soon as possible.'

The issue will be discussed when the council's environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel meets next Tuesday.

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