Staffordshire council leaders demand fairer funding for roads
Council bosses in Staffordshire say they must be given more money to fix roads after a report revealed authorities in London will have three times as much to spend on repairs than shire counties.
Experts claim funding for road maintenance is being unfairly weighted in favour of the big cities.
Staffordshire County Council needs to save £62 million from its budget over the next three years and chiefs have warned the current funding situation is "unsustainable".
Reacting to a report from the County Councils Network (CCN), Staffordshire's roads boss Helen Fisher said keeping roads maintained at current conditions will be "impossible" if funding does not increase.
The figures show that 36 shire counties were able to spend £20,885 per mile on road repairs, pothole filling, and constructing new junctions and networks last year.
That compared to the 31 councils in London are able to spend £62,350 per mile. The 36 urban metropolitan councils spent £41,929 per mile, while England’s eight ‘core cities’ are in a position to invest £57,241 per mile.
The leaders of England's county authorities have now issued a joint call for fairer funding as the CCN said drivers in Staffordshire were being made to feel like "poor relations".
The Government has announced a £2 billion potholes fund and the body said shire counties and more rural areas must see a chunk of the cash.
Councillor Fisher said: “Good roads are hugely important for counties like Staffordshire, not only for connecting people to homes, to jobs and to education, but also in helping councils like ours deliver a hugely ambitious economic growth programme.
“As a county council, we have invested an extra £50m in our roads from 2010 and, on top of that, a further £15m to help fix more potholes across our massive network of 6,000km of roads.
“While any additional funding is always welcome, like all county councils we have made it clear to Government that even maintaining the current condition of our roads will simply be impossible without urgent, fairer, long-term funding for counties.”
CCN chairman David Williams said: “The scourge of potholes and gridlocked roads are amongst the biggest local issues council leaders find in their mailboxes every week, affecting motorists, cyclists and local businesses alike.
"We know how important it is to keep our roads in a good condition, and we do our utmost to fill defects, upgrade routes and invest in new infrastructure despite the challenging financial circumstances faced by councils.
“But today’s analysis shows that county motorists are clearly the poor relation to drivers in London and other cities areas when it comes to how much gets spent on fixing potholes and improving the local road network, with drivers across the country facing a pothole lottery, even within regions."