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Council leader calls for government help on road repairs
SIXTY million pounds is to be spent on improving the county's roads over the next four years - but a Bucks council chief has called for the government to step in and help pay for it.
Buckinghamshire County Council today agreed in principle to spend £15million per annum on upgrading roads until 2018, with the proposals set to be rubber stamped later this month.
But council leader Martin Tett said that budget isn't enough and said the government should release more money to local authorities to make highway repairs.
He said at today's meeting of the council's cabinet: "We need the national government to step in and release substantial amounts of funds. This is beyond the resources of individual county councils, in my opinion."
A total of £50million has been spent in the last three years but Cllr Tett said it had been "virtually impossible" to properly maintain the surface of the county's roads because of poor weather over the last three winters.
He said 49 per cent of county residents questioned said they would be happy with a two per cent increase in council tax if the extra amount was used solely for repairing and improving the roads.
Such an increase would require a referendum of residents and Cllr Tett said he would have explored that possibility if the result of the survey had been even more emphatically in favour of the increase.
He said: "I'm aware of all the frustrations of the residents. I drive around the rest of the country a lot and this is a national problem. It's not something unique to Bucks and requires national funding to put right. We don't have the resources as a county council to solve in totality the problems on our roads."
Janet Blake, the council's cabinet member for transport, added: "To put a sticking plaster on something haemorrhaging ain't going to cut it. When we do things we need to do things properly first time.
"If the public see a pothole being repaired and a few months later it fails because of the winter weather, or whatever, and they have to come out again, it's seen quite rightly as a waste of resources."
Cllr Tett suggested money set to be spent on the HS2 rail link - which has been opposed by Bucks County Council from the outset - should instead be spent on improving roads.
Referring to where government money could come from to pay for road repairs, he joked: "The odd 50billion they might have spare would be the obvious choice."
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