Extra roads funding will boost good work already done in borough
Darlington is set to receive an additional £770,000 of Central Government funding to tackle potholes, general roads maintenance and the condition of our bridges, as part of a national pot of £420m.
The additional funding from the Department for Transport was first announced in October’s Budget. The Council has already recognised roads maintenance as a real issue and agreed a 4 year increase in spend, with an additional £500,000 this year – on top of existing maintenance budgets – to improve the condition of the borough’s roads.
Works carried out across the borough this summer saw the council spend a total of £1m to resurface or micro-asphalt more than 100 roads and residential streets – an increase of eight times the amount of work usually delivered in the summer programme.
A survey of the road network carried out in recent weeks has shown a strong improvement in the condition of the roads in Darlington, with the number of roads in need of attention dropping from 22% to 16%. We recognise there is more to be done and investment is being focused to improve road condition.
The additional Government funding will be used to boost the improvement seen this year and continue to tackle roads in poor condition, or step in to protect surfaces before they deteriorate (as seen in the micro-asphalt programme).
However, the additional Government money comes with a tight use-by date of 31 March 2019.
Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure and local environment, said: “The additional funding package from Central Government is as welcome as it is overdue – although I have to question the deadline of 31 March to get it all spent.
“Everyone knows winter is not the best time to repair roads. If we have a winter like this year, when the worst of the snow fell in March, there will be real challenges to be able to use this funding to its best.
“We’ve been asking for years for the Department for Transport to recognise the scale of what needs to be done to improve roads and start to tackle years of underinvestment by Central Government. To offer substantial funding while tying one hand behind our backs seems rather pointless.
“In Darlington, we decided to provide additional maintenance funding over a longer term to allow sensible planning and investment – this funding is on top of what was already earmarked – and we’ve seen a summer of activity across the borough which is already showing real results.”