COUNCILS in the North-East are to share more than £6m as an “exceptional payment” in a bid to patch up pothole-ridden roads.
A further £3.2m has been allocated to North Yorkshire County Council after leader John Weighell wrote to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin urging him to provide extra money for repairs.
In the North-East, Durham County Council will receive £1.2m from the Department for Transport, while several other local authorities each receive six figure sums.
While the Government cash – part of a £183m national allocation - was largely welcomed, there was criticism that the funding does not go far enough.
Councillor Nicky Walker, executive member for environment at Middlesbrough Council, which is being given £140,529, said: “It’s a drop in the ocean given we have an estimated £15m maintenance backlog in respect of our roads and more than £30m if you include footpaths and cycle paths.”
The authority previously set up a pothole ‘hotline’ for the public to report uneven roads and Coun Walker said the additional funds would be used for a combination of patching and drainage improvement work in affected areas.
Potholes can cause damage vehicles and also provide a real hazard for cyclists.
Douglas Kell, director of the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association in the North-East, said: “While we are pleased some money is coming to the North-East to start addressing a serious problem, it is a relatively small amount.
“The Beatles who referred in their lyrics to 4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, would today have found many more than that causing havoc in our region. But every little helps.”
Brian Buckley, a strategic highways manager with Durham County Council, said successive poor winters and unprecedented flooding events meant roads had deteriorated across the county.
He said: “This funding is welcomed and will be used to restore the integrity of the network and contribute towards addressing the maintenance backlog.”
Gareth Dadd, executive member for highways at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “[We have] one of the biggest highways networks in the country, and [are] facing a bill running into hundreds of millions of pounds...to bring roads up to standard. “While these funds are relatively small by comparison, they are a significant step along the way and we are very pleased to have been awarded them.”
The county council has already set aside £5m from its reserves towards the cost of repairs.
Mr McLoughlin said safer and smoother journeys would result from much needed road repairs paid for by the extra funding.