£12m road maintenance funding ‘nowhere near enough’ – highways chief

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Wakefield Council has announced plans to spend £12m to maintain the district’s roads.

But the authority has said that the investment is ‘nowhere near enough’ to fund improvements needed to more 2,000 of kilometres of roads, footpaths and cycle lanes.

The funding, set to be approved by senior councillors next week, will instead be used to target areas most in need of work.

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Matthew Morley, the council’s cabinet member for planning and highways, said more than £70m would be required pay for a significant network upgrade.

The funding, set to be approved by senior councillors next week, will instead be used to target areas most in need of work.The funding, set to be approved by senior councillors next week, will instead be used to target areas most in need of work.
The funding, set to be approved by senior councillors next week, will instead be used to target areas most in need of work.

The council is facing a £33m budget gap over the next financial year.

Coun Matthew Morley, said: “Right now our main priority is to protect our road investment. Good financial management means we’ve been able to do this.

“We’ll use this money as effectively and efficiently as we can, making sure there is an adequately maintained road network that keeps all road users safe.

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“But the harsh reality is that this funding will only enable us to maintain not improve our roads.

Councillor Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council's Cabinet member for planning and highways.Councillor Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council's Cabinet member for planning and highways.
Councillor Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council's Cabinet member for planning and highways.

“To give some idea of the scale of the challenge, we’d be looking at over £70m to properly deal with this. “

A report sets out a programme of work set to take place on 83 maintenance projects across the district.

Coun Morley added: “Prioritising how we use the investment is incredibly important so we can do the best with what we’ve got for the Wakefield district.”

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The money will also pay for infrastructure work including improving drainage, maintaining traffic signals, road markings and signs plus introducing road safety improvements.

Part of the funding will be used to promote safer walking, cycling and links to public transport.

A report says: “Failure to maintain the highway assets and address road safety concerns may result in increased danger to highway users, potential increases in claims against the council for compensation or litigation, more expensive unplanned reactive repairs and possibly increased congestion and pollution.

The funding for 2024/25 is in line with last financial year, which saw the council fill 12,747 potholes on roads and 1,028 footway potholes, as well as resurfacing 49 roads and 94 footpaths.

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The funding comes from the Department for Transport and West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Cabinet members will discuss the programme at a meeting on February 13.

Residents can watch the meeting online at: https://youtube.com/live/x1zEOZrhHUY?feature=share