Suffolk County Council's Highways Investment Fund will have a 'lasting benefit to the safety of our children' says Cllr Andrew Reid
Half a million pounds has been pledged by Suffolk Highways for fresh road markings and signs outside schools ahead of a changeover in parking laws.
Cabinet member for highways Andrew Reid unveiled the plan during Thursday’s full Suffolk County Council meeting, in which he confirmed faded lines outside schools would be repainted, and signs made clean and visible.
According to the council, a better settlement from central government means the £500,000 pot can be formed, known as the Highways Investment Fund.
Mr Reid said: “This additional funding into highways is very welcome and I am excited to see this money being used to help us target areas that we get a lot of feedback on from local parish and town councils – faded road markings and dirty or broken signs.
“We want to maximise this fund by combining it with other road safety projects.
“We have already started to replace lines and signs outside schools. Using this fund we will further improve lines and signs leading up to schools countywide.”
He added that it would have a “lasting benefit to the safety of our children” and would be put in place over the next 12 months.
Parking enforcement powers will transfer from police to local councils in the county from April, which aims to ensure a tougher crackdown on poor parking than the stretched police service could manage.
It is understood the scheme is to tie in with that change, and help prevent nuisance parking outside schools which cause traffic issues, safety problems for youngsters and pollution from idling cars.
However, it has not been universally welcomed by opposition groups.
Labour highways spokesman Jack Owen said: “It confuses me to hear additional funding is being made available to repaint lines on Suffolk’s roads.
“There was major exercise carried out as part of the programme to decriminalise on street parking where all double yellow lines were redone. Why then, are the Tories using additional funds to do something that should have been done already?
“More importantly, you have to question how we have reached the unacceptable situation where road signs are unreadable and double yellow lines faded near our schools, putting children in danger.”
Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group leader Penny Otton added: “It’s unbelievable that the Conservatives are congratulating themselves for doing the bare minimum to keep our children safe. It should be standard procedure to maintain road signs and lines around our schools, and shouldn’t require the creation of a special highways fund.”
The Highways Investment Fund comes following the announcement of the Suffolk 2020 fund – another one-off pot of £3million to be used on community projects.
More by this authorJason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter