Split over fund­ing of pot­hole re­pairs

Con­tentious pro­posal to bor­row £250m for work on county’s roads

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Jo-Anne Rowney jo-anne.rowney@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

RAD­I­CAL plans to fix the county’s pot­holed roads by bor­row­ing £250mil­lion are di­vid­ing Bucks County Coun­cil’s cab­i­net.

Fi­nance and re­sources cab­i­net mem­ber Peter Hardy said ‘the cul­ture of the coun­cil is not to bor­row’ but added he sup­ported the idea of bor­row­ing to clamp down on the on­go­ing road works needed across the county.

Some se­nior col­leagues back Mr Hardy’s idea, but oth­ers, in­clud­ing leader Martin Tett, are not in favour.

Mr Tett has also voiced his con­cerns over a short­age of school places as county hall fights to cut spend­ing, warn­ing that new class­rooms and even schools will need to be built to cope with the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

The news comes as we publish a 4-page re­port look­ing at the bud­get and de­part­ments that are likely to be af­fected.

Mr Hardy said: “I’d ar­gue road resur­fac­ing could be best met through bor­row­ing but I have not been able to per­suade my col­leagues.” A study car­ried out for the coun­cil re­vealed £262m would be needed to bring the county’s roads and foot­paths up to a ‘min­i­mum ac­cept­able stan­dard’.

Cab­i­net mem­ber for trans­porta­tion Ruth Vigor-Hed­derly also backed the idea of bor­row­ing, but agreed it was not a sug­ges­tion popular with all the cab­i­net.

The coun­cil has al­ready an­nounced £25m will be spent in the next year on road re­pairs, £10m after that and another £10m after that.

Mr Tett said: “The prob­lem with bor­row­ing is un­like with an as­set, or most company shares, you don’t see a div­i­dend or in­ter­est.

“The prob­lem with the roads is you don’t get any­thing back. From the mo­ment it’s resur­faced it starts to de­te­ri­o­rate.

“Say if we bor­rowed £250m, we would need to pay back the in­ter­est on that loan. We would have to use funds from ev­ery other ser­vice.

“My is­sue is when we dis­cuss it round the cab­i­net ta­ble I say, if we did this how much would they all cut back so we could pay the in­ter­est, and no one vol­un­teers.”

“Ev­ery­one likes the idea of bor­row­ing but no one wants to pay for it.

“It’s like get­ting a three piece suite on a loan, and you have to reg­u­larly pay off the in­ter­est, which means you can’t buy ev­ery­thing you want at Tesco next time you shop. It seemed like a good idea but when it im­pacts on you, no one likes it.”

The coun­cil fi­nances have come un­der the spot­light in the past week as the bud­get plans for this year were scru­ti­nised.

The plans also high­lighted the need for more school places, with another 800 chil­dren un­der 10 to cater for.

Mr Tett added: “We need to build more class­rooms. We also need more new schools but it’s pre­dom­i­nantly new class­rooms.

“With pri­mary school places it varies area by area. We will need to look at par­tic­u­lar schools where they can take ex­tra kids, per­haps an ex­tra form. But there will be a point where we need new schools.”

Turn to pages 8-11 for our spe­cial re­port

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.