14 December 2010

A £30m blitz on road repairs form a key part of Northamptonshire County Council’s budget proposals as it looks for upfront investment to help save cash in the long-run.

Plans put forward today would see an additional £30m pumped into repairing roads across the county with work to start in the next year by carrying out resurfacing and footpath repairs as well as various pro-active works which will prevent the need for more costly reactive repairs.

The cash would come from the council’s capital budget and it is anticipated that in the long run the on-going costs of road maintenance would be brought down.

Cllr Heather Smith, cabinet member for highways, minerals and waste, said: “We know just how important our roads are to our people. The You Choose campaign earlier this year where we asked people for their priorities showed once more that roads are clearly top of the agenda across the county.

“Today’s proposals therefore make complete sense - not only for our communities and residents but also for our finances.

“What we are proposing here is a big spend up front to achieve a very real and lasting step change in the condition of roads in the county. This will not only bring about massive and noticeable improvements it will also mean we will be able to bring down and control the annual spend on road repairs.

“Put simply this is a classic case of spend now to save later. A long term view which in the face of the biggest ever financial challenge ever facing public service protects and improves one of our most valued services while at the same time reduce long term costs.”

Over the last few years the county council has been putting extra money into repairing roads and also pioneered a new approach to road repairs which saw a switch of focus to carrying out more pro-active preventative re-surfacing work and semi-permanent repairs on highways defects, rather than temporary maintenance.

However a succession of cold winters and increase in traffic volumes has meant an even bigger and more wide-reaching programme is needed to really bring about lasting improvements.

Cllr Smith said: “We have invested more and we have pioneered a new way of working which has earned huge national interest from other councils. However the scale of the task we are facing asks for even more. These proposals will build on our successful work to date and the people of Northamptonshire will clearly see a difference.”

If approved the proposal would see the money for the scheme borrowed as part of the council’s capital programme and repaid over a set period of time.