Leading Conservatives in Northumberland have called for a £2.7 million Government grant to go towards tackling the crumbling roads in the rural north and west of the county.
Peter Jackson, the Leader of Northumberland Conservatives, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick, made the plea.
In the past two years the Government has given Northumberland County Council a pot of £3.9 million of new money specifically for the purpose of repairing its battered roads after they have been attacked by the extremes of weather in recent years.
The Government has just granted the county council a further £2.7 million for road repairs during this next year to tackle the persistent problem of potholes and poor roads and this should be over and above the existing roads maintenance budget.
“We think this extra money is a good opportunity to try and tackle the problems with the roads in the rural north and west, and make a real difference for the future,” said Coun Jackson.
Coun Jackson is concerned that money budgeted to repair non-principal roads in the whole county is not split proportionately between the north, west and south east of Northumberland.
“Obviously the number of miles of these minor, non-principal roads in both the north and west of the county amount to thousands of miles, whereas in the Labour heartland of the south east there is a limited number of these minor roads, yet that is where a large amount of the current spending is going. It is without doubt the case that the minor rural roads have fallen into disrepair in recent years.”
Mrs Trevelyan added: “The state of our roads is one of the main issues that people raise with me as I go around the constituency. It is not just the vast number of potholes but it is clear that the actual structure of the rural roads has been undermined in many places due to long term neglect from the Labour-run County Council.”
“We do not have very good connectivity in any case. There is limited mobile phone coverage in Northumberland and there is no high speed broadband in most rural areas.
“The roads are absolutely essential to keep our communities going and also to grow the local economy and to increase the number of jobs.
“It is high time that the problems with our country roads were tackled and this new money from Government gives the county council the means to do more long term repairs. There can be no excuses for lack of action now.”