CALLS have been made for more cash to be invested into repairing potholes and uneven roads across Prestwich and Whitefield.
Bury Council’s cabinet met last night to decide on whether to increase its highways budget by borrowing £10 million to fund repairs.
The money, which would be loaned from the government, would be invested into failing roadways and pavements throughout Bury.
In the cabinet agenda the highway network is described as ‘the single most valuable asset that the council owns’, which has deteriorated over time.
An estimated £75 million would be needed to “bring the network back to an ‘as new’ condition”.
Prestwich Cllr Tim Pickstone claims £10 million is ‘nowhere near enough’ to repair the roads.
The Bury Lib Dem leader said: “£10 million is just a drop in the ocean for what actually needs to be done. Last year Stockport Council borrowed £100 million to invest into the roads but that only repaired one third of the borough’s roads. “Although it seems a lot it’s not going to go anywhere, we should be borrowing more.
“It’s nowhere near enough to repair all the potholes and roads across the borough.”
The Bury road network is said to be depreciating at a rate of £5 million per year – but only £1.2 million a year is being spent on it.
Over the last three years the council has paid out an average of £1.2 million for highway related claims. In the last year, 229 claims were brought against the council, with 65 per cent being successful.
Cllr Alan Quinn, who represents Sedgley ward, said: “We should be spending £6 million a year on bringing the roads up to scratch but instead we’re spending about 20 percent of that.
“That’s because of Government cuts so we are doing what we can to improve our roads with the money we have. Prestwich has already had £2 million invested into the high street so this extra cash will be welcomed.
“We’ve worked to see repairs on St Mary’s Road in Prestwich, and we’ve been working to get Ogden Street in Prestwich, completely resurfaced. We’re doing what we can.”
Cabinet members voted on two options last night (Wednesday) at the meeting in Bury Town Hall.
They had to decide whether to leave the budget as it is or to borrow the additional £10 million to boost the infrastructure.
Cllr Jane Black, for St Mary’s Ward, added: “As a local member I fully support Bury Council’s plans to invest £10 million over three years in improving our road infrastructure.
“I hope that Prestwich roads will benefit from this proposal, many of our roads are in need of improvement. I report potholes regularly for action, but there is much more attention needed.
“Labour wants to use this money to tackle potholes and carry out much needed re-surfacing work on some of our main arterial roads.
“I find it hard to see why other political parties don’t unite with us on this issue, and why they voted against these proposals.
“Of course it would be good to have more funding than this. But budget decisions always involve judgement, and the decision to borrow £10 million is a responsible decision to make, bearing in mind other competing demands.”
The recommendation was to approve the borrowing. Initial borrowing costs would be paid for out of the council’s reserves, to a total of £611,000.
After it is intended borrowing costs would be funded through reduced ‘patching costs’ and fewer insurance claims.