Lincolnshire County Council has called on transport secretary Grant Shapps to return the millions cut from highways maintenance budgets last year, as the council bemoaned a £12m funding gap in its highways service.
As Lincolnshire struggles to draw up a budget for 2022/23, it pointed to a 25% cut to its highways maintenance funding from central government in February 2021.
Cllr Martin Hill, leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: 'Unlike last year, we haven’t allocated the £12m government slashed from our highways maintenance grant in our draft budget. This is because we’re still hopeful the transport secretary will listen to our plea and reinstate the 25% funding, [which was] cut last February.
'Despite finding corporate savings of £354m since 2011, we still expect to face a cumulative funding shortfall of around £23m over the next four years. This means we’d struggle to continue covering the £12m roads maintenance funding gap, as we will already need to increase council tax, draw on our reserves or find further savings – or more likely a combination of all three – to balance our budget.'
The county council argued that a continued lack of funding could lead to an increase in unplanned roadworks, a drop in road network resilience and more potholes.
Currently, 660 miles of Lincolnshire’s roads are classed as being in poor or very poor condition.
Cllr Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said: 'It’s incredibly disappointing that we haven’t yet had any commitment from Westminster to reinstate the £12m that was taken from our roads maintenance grant last year.
'Our vast 5,500-mile road network is crucial to the livelihoods of residents and businesses, so it’s essential that we keep it up to the standards they deserve.
'The £12 million cut by government last year and then backfilled by our reserves fills 24,000 potholes and rebuilds 37 miles of crumbling road.
'Without it, people will continue to watch as our roads get worse and the local economy takes a hit. That’s why we will continue lobbying government until they listen to us. We need them to fix our funding so we can fix our roads.
'We also encourage everyone throughout the county to help in our fight by visiting our campaign webpage and writing to their local MP to demand better funding for our roads.'
The county council also highlighted that according to the UK Road Liaison Group nearly one in three (31%) older adults (aged 65+) are prevented from walking more or at all on their local streets because of cracked and uneven pavements.
The research also found that half of older adults (48%) would walk more if their pavements were well maintained.