Norfolk’s drought-damaged roads in line for �1.7m funding

Council bosses are proposing to spend �1.7m on repairing Norfolk's drought-damaged roads after a bid for government cash failed.

The Fenland area was among the worst to suffer as dry conditions caused soil to shrink under road surfaces, causing them to crack and become uneven.

Norfolk County Council studies show the deterioration of roads in the Fens amounts to �8.92m, with the estimated cost of outstanding work totalling �4.7m.

The backlog of repairs in Norfolk overall has increased from �82.7m in 2011 to �89.9m in 2012.

Norfolk was among a group of eastern region councils, including Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, that submitted proposals asking the Department for Transport (DfT) for more than �20m to fund urgent repairs.

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Norfolk renewed its appeals for �3.8m after it was first turned down in March, with little success.

Now, the council has earmarked an extra �1.2m from its reserves for urgent road repairs in the Fens area.

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The new money would bring spending in the Fens during 2012/13 up to �2.35m, a figure the authority believes will prevent the 'worst case' outcome of having to close roads.

A further �500,000 has been made available for surface dressing - which aims to protect the road to prevent it needing major repairs - across Norfolk.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: 'We will do what we can this year, but our big disappointment is that the government has not provided any special funding for the serious damage caused to many fen roads by the recent drought.'

The DfT says it has not changed its position despite several councils joining forces to press their case.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said: 'While I recognise that fenland roads can be particularly susceptible to problems caused by drought I would encourage authorities to deal with problems as part of any scheduled maintenance programme.'

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