Suffolk borrows £21million in bid to cut number of potholes on county’s roads
A new £21million loan is set to be taken out by Suffolk County council in a bid to reduce the number of potholes that develop over the next four years.
The money will be added to the council’s road improvement budget – enabling up to a quarter of the county’s roads to be resurfaced by March 2021.
The extra money will be borrowed from the Public Works Loans Board for 15 years at an interest rate of “less than 2%” said finance chief Richard Smith. The loan bid is expected to be approved by the county’s cabinet next week during its budget discussions.
The money will not be spent directly on repairing potholes – Suffolk Highways’ contractors Kier are continuing to work to repair holes that open up.
But resurfacing roads during the summer months should reduce the number of potholes that open up during winters.
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Deputy council leader Jane Storey said: “You cannot stop potholes opening up, especially in the kind of weather we have forecast this week. But this will make our roads more resilient and should reduce the number of potholes in the future.”
The council aims to use the extra money to increase the number of roads it can resurface. It hopes to resurface 1,000 miles between May 2017 and May 2021. Last year it resurfaced 227 miles of roads in the county.
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The extra money, £7m a year for the next three years, will be added to funds already committed – enabling the work to take place.
During the next financial year the total spent on improvements and maintenance in Suffolk will go up to £40m.
Mrs Storey added: “Residents and businesses are very clear that they want to see roads and infrastructure improved in Suffolk.
“This is always the biggest discussion point when I meet people around the county. This significant amount of additional funding is a clear demonstration that we are a listening council and we are committed to investing in our roads to improve conditions for local people and Suffolk businesses.
“We’re not alone in seeing reduced funding from the Government. All local authorities need to plan how to use their budgets to make every penny count. Because we have always planned our finances carefully, we’re now in a position and believe the time is right to invest this additional £21m in maintaining our roads. Investing this money now ensures that our roads stay solid for longer and make using them a far better experience for everyone.”
“The extra money will be allocated to roads and infrastructure where there is the greatest need. These works will be planned carefully to make the most of the warmer summer weather when surface dressing needs to be done and conditions are the best for machine surfacing.
“This work will be fully co-ordinated to reduce the impact on road users. It’s not possible to confirm the locations of this work at this early stage. Assessments will be made by skilled technical officers using all of the data and information that is available to them.”
The investment is subject to approval by SCC councillors.
If approved, it will boost Suffolk Highways’ road maintenance and improvement spending in 2018/19 by 21%, up to £40m in total.