Cheshire West: Roads to benefit from £11.9m government funding

ROADS in Cheshire West and Chester are set to benefit from £11.9 million of government funding — but councillors say this figure is 20 per cent lower than last year.

The funding is split into £9,929,000 for highway maintenance and £1,970,000 for transport improvements, with £4,413,000 of the first sum earmarked for pothole repairs.

Now, ruling Labour councillors say that both the pothole and total funding are down 21 and 22 per cent respectively compared to the amounts received last year — but opposition Conservative members say the money is a ‘welcome boost’ which needs to ‘deployed quickly and effectively’

Cllr Karen Shore, Labour Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways & Strategic Transport told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “This [allocation] represents a 22 percent reduction from last year’s combined maintenance allocation. What is required is guaranteed and sustained increases in funding over the longer-term to tackle the severe backlog that exists. 

“We estimate that a sustained long-term investment of £15.9 million per annum is required simply to maintain the boroughs’ carriageways in their current state, a further £4.8 million per annum for footways and there is a £24.9 million backlog for structures assets.

“The £9.929 million total highway maintenance allocation for 2021/22 is less than 50 per cent of the investment needed for carriageways/footways and will regrettably lead to further deterioration of the network.”

However, Cllr Shore’s Conservative opposite number, Cllr Simon Eardley, has said that the authority’s road repair work ‘isn’t good enough’.

He said: “At the CWaC Cabinet meeting last week future plans around the council’s highways maintenance contract were discussed. Across the borough, we know from recent customer satisfaction surveys that the opinion of local residents should be of great concern to the leadership of the council.

“There’s serious dissatisfaction with the speed of the repair of roads; 20 out of 23 key benchmark indicators are below the national average and the overall satisfaction level is well below the national average.

“This isn’t good enough. This funding is a welcome boost but we need to see it deployed quickly and effectively to improve the situation that local taxpayers find themselves with as they try and get about across the highways network.”

Recently, it was announced that CWaC is taking on pothole maintenance ‘in-house’, ending its decade-long contract in with Ringway Infrastructure Services in 2022.

You can report a pothole or road issue on CWaC’s website.