Charity hits out at funding cuts to 'horrendous' roads

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 March 2018

Pothole

Pothole

Archant

Weston's 'diabolical' roads are at risk of becoming 'undriveable' as the Government prepares to slash maintenance funding for North Somerset's 'under-pressure' highways network.

North Somerset Council looks set to lose out on almost £340,000 of Government highways funding in the next financial year – increasing the cuts to around £784,000 since 2016 – although a recent Department for Transport (DfT) survey declaring the district has some of the best roads in England.

But one of the area’s biggest road safety charities, Weston & Mendip Institute of Advanced Motorists, says the reduction is going to make the ‘horrendous’ roads even more dangerous for drivers.

Ken Crane, a national observer at the charity, said: “I just reckon the roads are absolutely diabolical.

“The dangers obviously are damage to cars and if the potholes are too big they can actually tear the steering wheel out of the driver’s hands and cause an accident.

“I also drive a motorbike and on two wheels it is absolutely horrendous.

“Unless they do something straight away the roads will deteriorate to the point where we won’t even be able to drive on them.

“When you look at the roads 50 years ago to now, there is no comparison.”

Figures from the Local Government Association show national roads – motorways and trunk roads – will receive 52 times more funding per mile compared to local networks by 2020.

The analysis suggests £1.1million is due to be spent on each mile of the country’s strategic road network from 2015-2020 compared to just £21,000 for local authority-maintained highways.

With more cars on the roads than ever before, Weston central ward councillor Mike Bell believes the funding strategy should be reversed.

He said: “Our local roads form vital arteries for our communities.

“But with almost 30 per cent more cars on the nation’s roads than in 2000, they are under more pressure than ever before.

“Spending 52 times more on improving our national roads while starving local roads of investment will only serve to speed vehicles up between increased delays and congestion on local roads.”

A national survey has found North Somerset has some of the best roads in England.

The DfT’s annual road conditions survey studies networks across the country to judge what percentage should be considered for maintenance.

In 2017 just one per cent of the district’s A roads were found to be in need of repair while the figure stands at four per cent for B and C roads – well below the eight per cent South West average.

Three per cent of unclassified roads are classed as in need of repair.

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