Kent

Kent's roads 'need £250m' to be spent on repairs

Pothole being repaired
Image caption The council said it currently had 60 crews working on pothole repairs

At least £250m needs to be spent on Kent's roads to keep them at a good standard, according to the leader of the county council.

Paul Carter, leader of the Conservative authority, said it needed more money to repair the 5,000 miles (8,047km) of roads it was responsible for.

Its highways budget is to be cut from £72m in 2010-11 to £61m for 2011-12.

Transport Minister Norman Baker has told councils to "stop bleating" and use their money more wisely.

Mr Carter said: "The government grant has gone down about 20% for highways.

"We will still focus on highways maintenance and we're spending £40m to £50m, which just about lets us hold water.

"The cost of repairing roads to a good standard would be about £250m to get them where we'd like them to be on the 5,000 miles we're responsible for."

Figures obtained by the BBC reveal the authority's highways budget was reduced from £78m in 2009-10 to £72m in 2010-11 and would be cut to £61m in 2011-12.

They also show the number of claims filed by drivers in Kent for pothole damage nearly trebled last year to 3,474.

So far the authority has paid out £56,113 to settle compensation claims lodged in 2010. In 2009, the council paid out £111,234 after 1,196 claims for vehicle damage.

A spokesman for the council said fixing dangerous potholes was a priority and it had more than 60 crews carrying out repairs.

Paul Watters, the head of AA roads policy, said the budget cuts could lead to potholes being fixed piecemeal at the expense of more costly road resurfacing projects.

He added: "The backlog will build up. We'll see an increase in surface dressing, which seals the road but is unpopular with motorists because it's messy."

Mr Baker said: "Local authorities of course will always want more money but what we have a right to say as a government and what you have a right to say as a taxpayer is are you getting value for money from the money that is being spent?

"I'm not sure in every case that is true.

"So rather than local authorities bleating for more money all the time they should actually be looking at how they are carrying out their work."

On Wednesday the government said it would make £100m available for councils to bid for if they felt they had been badly hit by potholes.

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