roads and Potholes - South Crofts, Nantwich - March 2021 (1)

Cheshire East Council needs to invest as much as it can now to improve its highways to avoid closing unsafe roads in the future, a councillor warned.

It comes as the authority has included £7 million in its capital programme in 2022/3 for highways.

A further £4m is earmarked for 2023/4 and £4m again in 2024/25 for managing and maintaining highways.

But Cllr David Brown suggested an amendment which would see that £4m in both financial years increased to £6m.

He also asked for a major review of highways and transport funding both locally and by lobbying for government grant funding.

This was accepted by the corporate policy committee and will be voted on at full council when it considers the medium term financial strategy (budget) on February 24.

Cllr Brown told the committee the lower the investment in roads, the more the council had to spend on temporary repairs.

“Revenue monies spent on pothole repairs is very costly compared to planned repairs which are more cost effective and last between 10 and 20 times longer,” he added.

He said his amendment “offers the essential pump-priming needed to maintain a level of improvements that is needed to maintain improvement in key problem stretches of the network”.

“This will enable targeted future investment after this period, to be better informed by the results of the highways review,” he said.

The additional investment would be paid for by borrowing.

But Cllr Brown said the borrowing costs will be funded from correlated savings over the three-year period, achieved from the revenue budget allocated for pothole repairs.

Highways committee chair Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) said he did have some reservations that the funding was largely reliant on borrowing but he did support the amendment.

He said DFT funding for road maintenance is totally inadequate.

Sandbach councillor Laura Crane (Lab), vice chair of highways, welcomed the amendment but said: “Unfortunately, as we all know, this still leaves us woefully short of where we need to be just to stand still.

“With conservative estimates, we are still looking at a shortfall of five or six million a year just standing still with this proposal, with a potential £12m shortfall in fourth year.”

The amendment was put forward as the part of MFTS and will be voted on at full council on February 24.

The corporate policy committee voted in favour of recommending the MTFS, with the amendment, to full council next year.

Cllr Rod Fletcher (Alsager, Lib Dem) abstained because money allocated in past years for improving roads in Alsager has not yet come forward so the improvements haven’t been made.

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