Images: North Yorkshire County Council
North Yorkshire County Council has refuted a new report which suggests that, outside of London, it is the local authority with the largest cuts in its highways budget for 2017/18.
Published yesterday (13 July), the AA investigation found that more than 60% of local authorities in England have cut their highways and transport budget for 2017/18.
Looking at North Yorkshire specifically, the investigation found that the authority had cut its total budget by nearly £2.7m from 2016/17.
However, North Yorkshire County Council says not only has it maintained roads spending in recent years, it has spent more on roads than the Government has provided in revenue budget.
Specifically for 2017/18, the council says it plans to spend £53.3m – ‘a clear increase in cash spending’ from 2016/17 when it spent £52.6m.
The council also says that spending on maintenance to keep its road network ‘fit for purpose’ is a priority.
County councillor Don Mackenzie, said: “The AA has used a Government return that does not reflect spending in cash terms.
“If the AA had checked with us we could have shown them how we have increased spending, before naming us in this inaccurate way.
“We have maintained our roads maintenance spending and in fact we have increased our expenditure on the network in 16/17 beyond that which we had initially budgeted for.
“In addition we have also targeted preventative capital repairs, increasing expenditure in these areas in order.”
The council also says over the last seven years, £44m for road maintenance has come from its own money and from a ‘successful and innovative’ bid to the Local Growth Fund – linking the maintenance of the rural road network with economic growth. Cllr Mackenzie says this was the first bid nationally to the Local Growth Fund for capital funding to be spent on road maintenance.
Cllr Mackenzie added: “The condition of our rural roads network has substantially improved as a result of this continuing investment.
“Our additional and innovative use of funding for roads is about vital support for economic growth, supporting business and keeping rural communities and the economy on the move. Road maintenance of our vast network is a top priority and one of our greatest challenges.”
Three in five local authorities cut highways budgets
13 July 2017