A Northumberland councillor wants extra funding from the Government to fix roads concentrated in the rural areas of the county.
Peter Jackson, the leader of the Conservative opposition group on the county council, has called for the Government grant of £2.7m which was allocated to the council last week, to go towards tackling problems on the roads in the west and north of Northumberland.
“We think this extra money is a good opportunity to try and tackle the problems in roads in the north and west and make a real difference in the future,” said Coun Jackson.
Northumberland County Council received £2.7m to repair roads, bridges and other structures damaged as a result of the recent tidal surges and severe wet weather.
Coun Jackson claimed money budgeted to repair non-principal roads in the whole county was not split proportionately between the north, west and south east. He said he hoped the new funding grant would be used to tackle problems in rural Northumberland.
“Obviously the number of miles of these non-principal roads in both the north and west of Northumberland amount to thousands of miles whereas in the south east it is a limited number of those minor roads and it is those minor roads that have fallen into disrepair in recent years,” said Coun Jackson.
“It is the number one thing that people talk to me about in rural Northumberland. We do not have very good conditions in any case, there’s limited mobile phone coverage in Northumberland, there’s no high-speed broadband in rural areas.
“The roads are absolutely essential to keep communities going and also to grow the local economy and try to increase jobs in those parts.”
He said he hoped the money would be used for long-term work instead of temporary pothole filling.
Northumberland County Council said the funding was provided after a bid which identified that nine miles of road and 25 bridges and other structures were damaged by the recent weather. This was all over the county, but particularly in the rural areas to the north and west.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council said: “This additional funding is very welcome, and confirms the need for funding that we have demonstrated in our bids to Government. It will enable the council to accelerate its work to repair roads and structures which have been badly affected by extreme weather.
“The funding will allow work on roads, bridges and other structures, as well as repairs to landslips. A programme of work is currently being confirmed and we will be starting to roll this out at the earliest opportunity.”
The council said all of the damage identified would cost over £5m to repair and the funding will be spent in line with the work outlined in the bid.
It is hoped the majority of the work will be completed by the summer.
Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council added: “It’s a signal of how much the west was left out of the thinking under the last Liberal Democrat administration that the number of potholes has been allowed to grow to such a backlog.
“We know how important it is to local communities to deal with the menace of potholes which blight our roads.
“We aim to clear the backlog by June and then we’re aiming to stay on top of future pothole reports.”