Millions to be spent fixing Norfolk’s roads
More than �27m is to be spent fixing Norfolk's roads over the next 12 months, but council officers have warned that the figure will not be enough to tackle the backlog of work.
Norfolk County Council leaders agreed yesterday how to spend an extra �3.5m which has been made available for road maintenance because they have chosen to freeze the council tax.
The government gave authorities which decided not to increase tax a one-off grant and the council's cabinet decided how to spend the money.
They agreed that just under �2.4m will be spent on surface dressing and about �750,000 on surfacing, which, council officers say, will mean an extra 100km of roads can be treated.
A further �380,000 will be used specifically to repair Fen roads in west Norfolk, which have suffered drought damage.
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In many areas, the peaty soil has shrunk as it has dried out because of lack of rainfall, which means road surfaces have become uneven.
In Engine Road, which runs alongside the Great Ouse at Ten Mile Bank, near Downham Market, the surface has sunk by more than a metre.
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Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: 'We have been allocated �21m by the government, but we are spending �27m on structural maintenance. We have got big problems in the west of the county, which we are trying to address.
'I had written to transport minister Norman Baker asking for extra money for that because it has been caused by the weather and is something out of our control, but he has a different view.
'However, we are working with councils in Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, saying these are unusual circumstances and asking again.'
A further �3.3m of integrated transport funding, which is money which would otherwise have been spent on walking and cycling schemes, is to be reallocated for maintenance purposes, to the annoyance of Green group leader Richard Bearman.
He said: 'Whilst accepting that maintenance is clearly needed, why is the government transport allocation for integrated transport, which includes all walking and cycling schemes for Norfolk, being so completely underfunded?'
Mr Plant said if circumstances were different, more money would be set aside for integrated transport, but that was not possible in the current climate.
Despite the investment of �27.559m on structural maintenance, council officers said that is still below that needed to keep the roads in their current condition, which would require in excess of �30m a year.