£72 million needed for Thurrock roads as council blasts lack of government support

THURROCK Council is working flat out with the funds it has to keep the borough’s highways properly maintained and traffic flowing.

But many years of minimal investment by central government means all the council can do is patch and mend, says Leader Cllr John Kent.

Speaking at Wednesday (12 February) evening’s meeting of the council’s cabinet, Cllr Kent said: “This is a historic problem. There hasn’t been enough investment in our roads system for decades.

“I can remember even before we won unitary status, a councillor saying the government’s investment in Thurrock’s roads amounted to little more than a bucket of tar and a brush. Unfortunately nothing seems to have changed – and the situation’s getting worse not better.”

A report to Wednesday’s cabinet said “an additional £40 million over five years” is needed to make sure the roads were brought up to a condition “where the minimum amount of maintenance in needed”.

The overall highways network, including lights, paths and so on, needed £72 million in the same time period, said the report.

Yet “funding for this is going down not up,” said Cllr Kent.

“In 2012 we got £3 million for the roads network – in 2014 we will have £2.8 million.”

He added: “Of that £3 million in 2012 we received £2.132 million for maintenance – money to patch up and mend the network – fixing pot holes, sorting out street lights, gritting and carrying out bridge assessments. Next year it will be half a million less.

“What this report highlights is that all we can do is make-do and mend, when what we should be doing is replacing what we have. Fixing a pothole when it appears only postpones the problem – it will appear again next year or the year after.

“The problem has been made worse as recent winters have either been extremely cold and snowy or very wet like this year. Heavy snow and heavy rain speed up the destruction of road surfaces; despite the savings we have to make. we also have to find a way to pay for investment in our highways.”

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