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Suffolk Highways to lobby for fairer funding

Fresh lobbying for fairer highways funding is set to be pursued by Suffolk Highways chiefs.

In May, Suffolk Highways revealed it was operating on around 30 per cent of the budget needed to carry out all of the work needed to maintain Suffolk’s roads, which had forced it to prioritise what maintenance was carried out.

Conservative cabinet member for highways, Mary Evans, last month said that the county needed a fairer share of the funding pot.

She said: “We do raise [the issue] and we are hopeful that our case has been heard,” she said following December’s scrutiny committee.

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6233332)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (6233332)

“We will find out if there is going to be a spending review this year and to gear up for that we will stress with MPs that more money is needed.

“But I am conscious of the pressures on adult social services and children’s services.”

Suffolk County Council has announced a series of cuts designed to save around £11million next year, with winter gritting and out of hours standby being reduced, less spend on rural bus services and ceasing roadside bus timetables among those coming from highways.

Road sign cleaning will also stop, with only mandatory road markings being maintained.

It has led to the council pursuing the Community Self Help scheme which will allow parish and town councils to carry out low level roadworks, expected to be launched early in 2019.

Finance cabinet member Richard Smith said it was vital to protect children’s and adult care services from the cutbacks.

But opposition highways spokesman Jack Owen, Labour, said he was sceptical any more funding would be forthcoming.

“I think they are saying what people want to hear,” he said.

“Quite frankly they have been doing lobbying all the way through [this government].

“While there’s no harm in it I am not sure it’s going to achieve anything.”

Mr Owen said the uncertainty over Brexit meant it was “going to be difficult to make a commitment to anything” for the government until it had resolved that matter.

Suffolk was confirmed to have received £9.6m in the Chancellor’s autumn statement for carrying out pothole and road repairs, with some of the cash being put towards new thermal patching technology that will repair potholes using existing asphalt on the road.

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