£42 million a year just to maintain Staffordshire's roads - report
Almost £42 million is required each year for the upkeep of the county’s roads just to keep the network “in a static condition”, a report revealed.
County councillors are now being encouraged to focus their efforts on road improvement projects in their local areas – and have each been allocated £20,000 to do so.
The figures were revealed in a report to Staffordshire County Council’s Prosperous Staffordshire Select Committee last week.
Councillor Helen Fisher, cabinet member for highways and transport, told Thursday’s meeting: “The fact that we need £42m every single year to keep the roads at a static state frightens the heck out of me – they’re just such colossal figures. it’s clear we don’t have enough money at all, full stop.
“The approach we take to fixing our roads is clear. The approach we must take is about the safety of our roads first and foremost.
“There are jobs that will not be done for a few years. This £20,000 I am hoping will go towards a little bit of what needs doing in local areas.
“It’s not a great job to have fixing our roads – I find it quite stressful most of the time – but I do manage it. We are doing our best and I am sorry we don’t have any more money, or we could fix every single pothole.”
At a cabinet meeting the day before, Councillor Fisher had called on the new Prime Minister to consider the need for road maintenance funding he takes office.
Committee chairman Councillor Ian Parry said: “There is no public asset in this council that isn’t underfunded in some way. What everybody has to do is cut their cloth.
“I recognise the improvement journey you have been on. I really welcome the idea we can put our £20,000 resource into priorities for local matters.”
Councillor Syed Hussain added: “I would like to pass on my gratitude to the cabinet member for the £20,000 – it can go far. When you engage the community you can achieve a lot.”
Potholes and gullies were not the only areas of concern highlighted however. Councillor Julia Jessel called for road signs not to be overlooked in maintenance work.
“Some of them are so messed up and dirty”, she said. “It’s a very minor thing in terms of overall assets but it does risk people’s ease of reading road signs. Not everybody follows a sat nav when they are driving.
“It makes an area look rather unloved and unkempt. It’s a tiny bit of detail but sometimes we tend to forget the little things.
“I was driving through Great Haywood to Stafford and there was a sign near Wolseley Bridge that was almost completely green with moss.”