December 10, 2021 1.35 pm This story is over 30 months old

Plea to government to ‘give back our £12m’ for 72,000 pothole repairs

Budget slashed by 25% this year

Around 72,000 potholes could be left unfilled or 111 miles of road left unrepaired over the next three years if a £12million-a-year slashing of government funding isn’t reinstated.

Lincolnshire County Council has approved a motion calling on the government to give back money taken from its road maintenance budget this year.

Conservative leaders are working with Lincolnshire MPs after the authority received £39 million in February compared to £51m last year – a near 25% cut.

This year the funding gap was filled through use of the council’s reserve money and underspends from the previous year.

However, following discussions with government, leaders believe the £12million reduction will be “baked in” for the next three years.

If reinstated, the funding would cover 37 miles of rebuild and 24,000 potholes a year.

No allocation of funding has been announced yet, with an announcement due December 13.

However, Conservative council leader Martin Hill said: “This is especially a very big issue for us because as we all know we’ve got a lot of road network and we all know that a lot of that road network isn’t particularly well built in the first place.”

Council leaders also warned there could be an economic issue and put off business from coming or staying in the county.

“A stitch in time is very important in highways, if you don’t do it now it will cost you twice as much to repair it,” said Councillor Hill.

Lincolnshire County Council’s Full Council Meeting on December 10. | Image: Daniel Jaines

The council has already been campaigning for fairer funding in general and leaders warned the authority could not take the additional pressure.

Councillor Hill said: “The financial position of the council is strong but is not such that we can keep on plugging that gap for another £12 million every year.”

He said during elections in May this year the number one issue was potholes.

Executive councillor for highways, Conservative Councillor Richard Davies said the authority had not shied away from difficult decisions in recent years and had made tough choices, but had also done “a lot of thing people expected us to do”.

“Highways is the most important service we offer so to receive 25% cut? That is unacceptable.

“We all need to draw together to make sure it doesn’t stay like that.”

Councillors were broadly in support of the motion, though some members also pointed to other areas that needed fairer funding, including children’s and adults’ services.

Conservative Councillor Charles Marfleet said: “We’ve got massive implications with adult social care and the new reforms and it’s just more pressure and pressure but there’s one thing to know, everybody uses our highways in Lincolnshire its only right that we get this funding.”

Others queried where savings would come from if the campaign was unsuccessful.

Independent Councillor Marianne Overton said it was “absolutely vital” roads were repaired for the safety of users including cyclists.

She added that an increase in housebuilding and development had “left us in the lurch” when taking away roads funding.

The Department for Transport has plans to invest £5million in roads maintenance over this parliament.