Norfolk County Council members call for extra �4m to fix county’s roads

Councillors have called for a �4m slice of a multi-million pound government windfall to be used to fix Norfolk's crumbling roads.

Because Norfolk County Council plans to freeze its share of the council tax this year, the government is set to hand the authority �8.6m.

And, with a backlog of �83m of repairs needed on Norfolk's roads, councillors yesterday sent a message to the leaders holding the purse strings that almost half the council tax windfall cash should go on fixing roads.

Deputy leader Ian Mackie had indicated that the cash should be split between road maintenance, looked- after children and creating jobs and apprenticeships.

Members of the environment, transport and development overview and scrutiny panel, were told �3.5m of the �8.6m might be heading towards road maintenance.

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Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, explained that, not taking into account the possible extra money, there would be about �24m to spend on road maintenance, �1.4m to fix bridges and just �2m for integrated transport schemes.

He said: 'My advice is we should prioritise maintenance rather than improvements, split between surface dressing and road resurfacing.'

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He said the council had joined forces with colleagues in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire to call for the government to stump up extra cash to fix roads which had badly deteriorated in the west of the county. In parts of the Fens, the peaty soil has shrunk as it has dried out because of a lack of rainfall, leaving uneven surfaces.

An example is Engine Road, which runs alongside the Great Ouse at Ten Mile Bank, near Downham Market, which has sunk by almost a metre in some sections.

Some councillors at yesterday's committee were eager for the council tax windfall cash to be spent to tackle that problem, but others cautioned against making a snap decision without further evidence of where the need for road repairs was highest.

Anthony White, Conservative councillor for Feltwell division, said: 'A lot of our roads need a bit more tender loving care and I would like to put forward that if there was a way to make this money up to �4m we really could do with that extra money.'

Councillors agreed, by a vote of eight to six, to ask the cabinet for �4m from the council tax windfall fund to spend on road maintenance.

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