Pothole cash ‘only scratches surface’

Sunk: Cash handout nowhere near enough to tackle all of Lancashire's potholes says highways chief
Sunk: Cash handout nowhere near enough to tackle all of Lancashire's potholes says highways chief
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A £2.2m handout to repair Lancashire’s potholed roads has been slammed as “too little too late.”

The Government grant, part of a £140m nationwide aid programme to tackle damage caused by bad weather, will only “scratch the surface,” declared Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways at County Hall.

The news comes just days after it was revealed vehicle damage claims in Lancashire caused by potholes have soared by 273 per cent in a year.

The cash-strapped authority, which has shelled out £17m in compensation to drivers in the past five years, will get more cash than every council in the North West, bar Cumbria.

But their £2,279,110 share is only just over a quarter of the amount needed to maintain the county’s road network, according to Coun Fillis.

“For the Government to propose that £140 million for the entire country could in anyway even scratch the surface of the work that needs doing to improve the state of our nation’s roads is at best completely out of touch with the reality on the ground,” he stormed. “Around £2 million to fill the £8,000,000 hole in funding for road repairs we face every year is too little too late.”

Coun Fillis said council’s in England currently face a £10.5bn shortfall to repair damaged roads, a problem which for many has been exacerbated by one of the wettest winters on record.

For the insurance year 2012/13 there were 1,833 highways defect claims against the authority. That was an increase of 35 per cent on the previous year and included a 273 per cent increase in claims related to wheel and tyre damage caused by the county’s roads.

Cumbria topped the list of beneficiaries with just over £3m from the Government pot. Lancashire’s £2.2m far outstripped Liverpool (£465,000) and Manchester (£419,000).

Announcing the funding, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Damage to roads causes misery for drivers and local communities and the severe weather over the last few months has made the problem worse. This extra money will help make a real difference to residents across the North West who rely on local roads, giving them safer and smoother journeys.”