Despite being forced to make £32.5m budget savings, Northumberland County Council has pledged £600,000 to tackle potholes.
At the budget meeting on Tuesday, the Labour administration unveiled its bold plan to fix the reported 12,213 potholes across the county’s 3,186 miles of road and 1,875 miles of adjacent footpaths by June.
They say they have already made significant inroads, having inherited a backlog of 35,247 potholes when they came into power last May.
Council leader Grant Davey said: “Our first budget is set against the backdrop of a severe cuts package by a ConDem government that seems to be determined to hammer Northumberland.
“While we’ve got to find £32.5m worth of cuts, we think that we can save money by tackling the scandalous ‘pothole black hole’ left by the previous Lib Dem administration.
“By dealing with over 12,000 pot holes by June, we think we can reduce the liability of the council for damages caused by the holes.”
Councillor Ian Swithenbank, highways portfolio holder, added: “We’ll be adding capacity to our highways operation to enable our staff to tackle the backlog and get on top of a problem that our residents tell us is important to them.
“We’ll be investing around £600,000 because we think that it save money in the long run and we’ll be able to reduce our liability on potential insurance pay outs.”
A £32.5m programme of cuts, including a 1.98 per cent increase in council tax, was formally agreed despite opposition from the Conservative group.
Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader, said: “Setting this budget was a real challenge but our aims were always to be fair to the residents of Northumberland while maintaining essential services and making improvements wherever possible.
“Some of the measures we’ve taken will not only ensure that cuts are fair to residents across the county - but also deliver key improvements on things like affordable housing, economic growth, schools support, local services and free parking where local communities think it will boost the economy.
“For example introducing free parking has real benefits for residents, businesses and visitors but we left the decision to local communities, who have been consulted throughout this budget process.”
The council has already pledged to respond to issues raised in the public consultation and is currently reviewing the options around post-16 transport and the youth service.
But Coun Davey warned: “It is clear we are going to face more significant cuts in the coming years and work is already underway to plan for the future.”
It is estimated £130m will need to be saved by 2018.