Pothole funds need help, says Norfolk County Council

Image caption, The council hopes to receive extra pothole money from the government

Financial help is needed if Norfolk County Council is to fill in potholes remaining after another harsh winter, its transport chairman has said.

Budgeting £1.15m to spend on pothole repair in 2010-11, it needed £2.2m more from the government to fix road damage remaining from the previous winter.

Councillor Graham Plant hopes the Department for Transport can offer a similar amount of money this year.

"We won't be able to do it with the budget we've got," he said.

"We're hoping that we're going to get some of the slice of the £100m that's been announced nationally.

"This winter caused a similar amount of damage so we hope to get our cut."

The Department for Transport announced in February it was offering £100m extra to councils in England to repair potholes.

Mr Plant hopes if the council receives a similar figure to last year, it should be able to solve all its remaining road issues by November.

"National data suggests our A roads, which are used by the most traffic and the heaviest traffic, are amongst the best maintained in the country," he said.

Norfolk County Council has had to pay out more than £350,000 to individuals in compensation for the damage caused by potholes and road maintenance since 2008.

Transport budget

While unveiling a similar budget for 2011-12 to undertake the day-to-day maintenance of Norfolk's roads, the council has had to admit there will be a shortfall of nearly £4m in the money it can spend on big road projects in the next year.

The shortfall is partly down to the council announcing on Valentines Day that it was to cut the environment and transport budget by £8.7m over the next 12 months, which has forced it to withdraw the extra £7m which it added to fund structural maintenance in 2010-11.

Image caption, Councillor Graham Plant wants to ensure the existing road network is "safe"

"Capital investments are very much on the back-burner at the moment," said Conservative councillor Mr Plant, who was appointed cabinet member for travel and transport in October.

"This budget will be there to maintain the existing highway and make sure that it's safe.

"It costs an awful lot of money to resurface a road properly and we have 6,000 miles of road, so what we look at is how we spend our money to maintain the road surface to a safe minimum aspect."

Major trunk roads in Norfolk such as the A11, A12 and A47 are not maintained by the county council, but by the Highways Agency.

Cycling problems

Edmund King from the AA believes it would be better for councils to spend money on long term road repairs rather than "filling in" potholes.

"Sometimes it's more cost effective to bite the bullet and resurface a bit of road rather than fill in a pothole," he said.

The problems motorists face every day through potholes are echoed by the Norwich Cycling Campaign, which is fronted by Matthew Williams.

"From a cycling point of view hitting a pothole, particularly at night when you can't see them coming, is an issue," he said.

"The roads have deteriorated and I would also add to that I've noticed in recent years there has been some pretty low-quality resurfacing carried out, particularly in Norwich.

"The surface dressing leaves a lot to be desired in certain situations."

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