Skelmersdale West County Cllr, Julie Gibson, has called for greater action to be taken on the County Council roads after a recent study showed the UK has one of the worst records when it comes to repairs. A Local Government Association (LGA) study found that despite Ministers announcing that funds for highway maintenance would increase by £200m – to £700m – in the Spring Budget, decades of reductions in funding from successive Conservative governments have left councils facing the biggest ever annual pothole repair backlog with councils now facing a £1.3 billion shortfall in their pothole repair budgets.
Cllr Gibson said: “I’m not surprised at the outcome of this study. The state of the roads in West Lancashire and my area of Skelmersdale is top of the complaints that I receive from residents. I have a particular area in my patch, known as Whitehey Island which is literally like a patchwork quilt to drive around. This roundabout is on a main route in the area connecting Skelmersdale with the other parts of West Lancashire and is used daily by many motorists. I have recently been fortunate to secure a commitment from Lancashire Highways that it will be resurfaced, but this has taken much lobbying from myself, fellow councillors and residents for this to happen.
She continued: “As a main route through town, I would expect this road to be part of a regular maintenance system, but when I look at the results of the LGA study and the lack of central government funding it is hardly surprising the roads in Lancashire are in the state they are in when we have to cope with the results of 13 years of Conservative cuts to our budgets. The UK spends the least out of 13 nations on repairing roads ‘blighted’ by potholes, with one in five roads in England and Wales in such poor condition that they have less than five years of life remaining.
Cllr Gibson said: “The Conservative Government should take this opportunity to work with councils to develop a long-term, fully funded programme to catch up with the backlog. One potential solution, mentioned in the LGA report, would be to commit to a 10-year programme where funding for local roads is boosted by devolving the equivalent of 2p per litre of existing fuel duty. This cash injection could help reverse the decline in road conditions and give local council’s the funds to do the job. At the AGM of Lancashire County Council this year, the Conservative Leader, Phillipa Williamson announced that the Conservatives are “on top of the potholes in Lancashire”; I think the residents of Lancashire would clearly disagree. We need action now and a long-term programme to tackle this issue before our roads deteriorate to the point where they are beyond repair.”