by Nigel Bakhai on 16 July, 2013
Please find below a copy of my speech to the July 2013 council meeting on the subject of spending on roads and pavements:
Thank you, Mr Mayor. Between 2000 and 2006, under Labour Ealing Council’s capital spending on roads and footpaths averaged around £1.2M per year. Under the Tories this went up fivefold to £6M per year. This has now dropped by a third below £4M per year over the last 3 years.
While the aim of this Tory motion is for them to congratulate themselves on their local record, since Boris Johnson became Mayor of London we have seen a similar fall in the Transport for London allocation to Ealing for spending on its principal roads – down nearly 40% since 2008.
The council has spent nearly £400k in my ward of Elthorne over the last 3 years. £350k has been spent on new footpaths in 4 roads. A further £40k has been spent on new road resurfacing in one road. I am pleased for the residents of these roads that their roads will be done, but I think most council taxpayers would be staggered to know the cost of repaving just 4 roads and resurfacing one road.
I estimate there are around 2500 roads in the borough. Only 91 roads (or roughly 3%) will have been resurfaced over the period 2011-14. At this rate it would take 90 years to resurface the whole borough. Over the same 3 year period 45 roads will have new pavements and at the same rate it would take 180 years to repave the borough!
The council clearly needs to do more. Potholes on the Uxbridge Road make it look like the surface of the moon and are dangerous to cyclists. This year’s Lib Dem budget proposed an additional spend of £1m on road and pavement repairs funded by cancelling the Southall Car park project. Now that the council has committed this money and the project is expected to come in under budget, we would urge the council to use this underspend for investing in our roads and pavements.
Road repairs spending is also part of the £100 billion infrastructure spending recently announced by Lib Dem Treasury Minister Danny Alexander. In all, the Government is delivering £28bn in road improvements, including £976M each year from 2015/16 to 2020/21, nearly £6 billion in total is to be allocated to local authorities to help repair the local road network.
Roads have suffered from massive historic underinvestment and investment in roads is only one third the levels spent at its peak 40 years ago. The result of this underinvestment is that UK is currently ranked 24th in the world for quality of its roads. France is currently first, and by way of comparison France spends 75 per cent more per head than the UK.
The result of decades of underinvestment is that we have a creaking road network in need of urgent repair work. Local authorities estimate a £10 billion backlog in local highways maintenance that would take twelve years to address if the funds were made available. Poor quality roads create congestion through road works and delays. It has been calculated that congestion costs the economy £19 billion every year. It is also estimated that a third of drivers have damaged their vehicle as a result of hitting a pothole in the last two years. A recent survey suggested that local authorities made £32 million of compensation payments to road users for damaged vehicles resulting from poor local road conditions.
This new Government funding is the equivalent of filling 19 million potholes a year up to 2020-21. Together with £4 billion extra in national maintenance funding to the highways agency, this investment in repairing the road network will sustain over 11,000 jobs through every year of the next Parliament. This is an ambitious plan to build a road infrastructure that Britain can be proud of again.
Mr Mayor. This council needs to follow the Coalition Government’s lead and increase investment in our local roads and pavements.Leave a comment