THE Government has been accused of ‘giving with one hand and taking with the other’ after providing more than £430,000 to fix Cheshire West’s potholes.

Chris Grayling MP, transport secretary, announced last week that Cheshire West and Chester Council would receive £436,018 from a pot of more than £200 million to spend on road improvements.

The move has been hailed by Conservatives as a boost for Cheshire’s drivers – with neighbouring Cheshire East Council also set to receive £533,171.

Cllr Lynn Riley, leader of CWAC’s Conservative group, said: “This new funding to tackle potholes and improve the condition of our roads is great news for businesses and people in Cheshire and across the county who rely on local roads to get to work and to visit friends and family.

Winsford Guardian:

“CWAC Conservatives have pledged to restore previous levels of funding from the council’s own reserves for extra road maintenance and will focus on improving footpaths as well as local residential roads.”

The funding announcement came as the Government launched a new guide on best practice for pothole repairs last week.

As part of the £201 million national funding pot, £50 million is to be spent on tackling potholes and flood resilience, while a further £151 million is being used to reward councils that show best practice on repairing roads.

But the Local Government Association insists the cash boost is not enough to improve roads in the long-term, and is calling on central Government to commit to improved funding to avoid ‘more costly short-term repairs’.

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And a letter from the Department for Transport sent to CWAC – seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service – shows that the £436,018 is an early payment of funding the council already expected to receive, rather than a bonus payment it had not expected.

Labour Cllr Karen Shore, CWAC cabinet member for environment, fears the Government is treating local roads as a ‘poorer relation’ when it comes to funding.

She said: “As with any funding allocation, we welcome it, but I don’t think the government giving with one hand and taking with the other is any real cause for celebration.

Winsford Guardian:

“This is not new money but part of our annual settlement. The council will continue to use whatever funding it has available to repair roads and potholes on the local road network.

“To date, we have repaired around 10,000 potholes this year, which is why there is concern that the level of investment from Government in local road networks is simply not enough.

“They seem to allocate the funding to large capital projects on the strategic network, leaving local road networks the poorer relation. Over time this means that much more is going to be needed to restore local roads to the same standards as the strategic and major road networks.”

CWAC also received £3.5 million from the Government for highways improvement schemes in last autumn’s budget.

From that money, the council has spent more than £2 million on road resurfacing, preventative maintenance and reducing its backlog of road defects.

The remaining £1.5 million is set to be used for further road resurfacing and preventative measures.

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