Leeds and Wakefield: ‘Potholes cash won’t fix bigger road woes’

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COUNCIL chiefs in Leeds and Wakefield say £67m of new Government funding to repair pothole ridden roads across the two cities over the next six years is nowhere near enough to address the problem.

The Government is to make around £45m available for road repairs and improvements in Leeds and around £22.3m in Wakefield.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: “Although this funding is welcome, it will not be enough to see a dramatic turnaround in road conditions and will still mean we will have to prioritise our work in the areas most in need.

“Recent hard winters combined with decades of underfunding have left Leeds with a combined maintenance backlog of around £135m.”

Coun David Dagger, Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for transportation and highways, said: “While the announcement is positive, Wakefield, like many local authorities, has to manage a backlog of repairs, currently estimated at £68 million. This has been allowed to develop due to years of highway maintenance underfunding by central government. It will allow Wakefield to target the roads and footways requiring essential maintenance, but will not permit any significant improvement.”

The cash for road repairs in Leeds and Wakefield will be included in £152m given to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority - the body that brings together the five West Yorkshire authorities and York to work on issues including transport. It is the first time councils have been given a long-term guide on roads funding.

Commenting as chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box, said: “The certainty of £81m over three years, with a possible further £71m over the three years after that, is welcome.

“But I’m disappointed that the maintenance budgets of the individual councils have been reduced to create this fund, at a time when councils are being asked to reduce funding for services, including day-to-day highway maintenance.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Poorly maintained local roads, blighted by potholes, are a menace to all road users, particularly during the festive period as people travel to see family and friends. It is vital we have good quality roads.”

Councils in the region have complained that funding cuts have made it increasingly difficult to maintain roads properly. A spokesman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils, said: “Recent harsh winters and decades of underfunding by successive governments have created a national backlog of road repairs that would take £12 billion and a decade for councils to fix.”