Failing to fix potholes next to other defects ‘annoys the public’ and brings the county council ‘into disrepute’, a Lib Dem has suggested.
West Sussex County Council is receiving transitional grants of £6.2m in 2016/17 and £6.3m in 2017/18, despite a steep reduction in overall funding from central Government.
A total of £5m has been set aside for improving pavements and footways over the next two years, £500,000 for road markings, £500,000 towards community flood defence schemes, and £2.25m towards the Public Health budget as the dedicated grant from Government was £2.9m less than originally expected.
A total of £3m has yet to be allocated for 2017/18.
During the debate at County Hall on Friday (April 15), Morwen Millson (LDem, Horsham Riverside) welcomed the use of the transitional grant, but raised the problems of potholes in Horsham and other areas.
She questioned the approach of contractors filling in a pothole and not repairing defects in the road next to it if it did not currently meet the intervention criteria, but would probably do so in several weeks.
Mrs Millson said: “We need to be more sensible about this because it brings us into disrepute.”
She added: “It’s not a good use of public money and it really annoys the public.”
James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East), leader of the Lib Dem group, welcomed £850,000 funding for West Sussex to fill potholes from central Government, which he thought would go a small way to improving the ‘disgraceful state of some of our roads’.
But he called the Pothole Action Fund a ‘bit of window dressing’, when public services were facing large overall cuts across West Sussex.
Meanwhile Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) described how a fifth of their roads were ‘below an acceptable standard’, and expressed ‘dismay’ that action on parking problems were not being prioritised.
He added: “We need these improvement schemes in some areas of the county. West Sussex County Council should not expect the district and boroughs to pay for these.”
Christine Field (Con, Lindfield and High Weald), deputy leader and cabinet member for community wellbeing at WSCC, said that their preventative work not only saved the Treasury money in the long-term, but improved the quality of life for residents.
The budget for 2016/17 was approved in February, but councillors voted to defer a decision on spending the transitional grant to investigate the best way to spend the one-off money.
When the revised budget was approved earlier this month the only three abstentions were from Tory councillors.
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