Minister snubs plea for extra cash to tackle pothole plague
A PLEA from councils for more money to tackle the crumbling road network has been rejected by SNP ministers.
Local authorities say a ‘measly’ £10million handout is not enough to tackle the damage caused by the ‘Beast from the East’.
But Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said he would not provide more cash.
He made the decision despite fears tens of millions of pounds worth of pothole damage caused by the severe winter weather will not be repaired.
Local authority umbrella body Cosla estimates £50million is needed to
‘A measly £10million’
tackle the backlog, five times the amount given by the Government.
The decision by Mr Mackay emerged a day after we revealed councils are spending less filling potholes than five years ago, despite a growing backlog.
Perth and Kinross councillor Peter Barrett, the Lib Dem representative on Cosla, said: ‘The Finance Secretary is distributing a measly £10million when councils need five times as much. Derek Mackay’s promise to stand by councils and communities in their time of need has disappeared like snow off a dyke. It is road users who are going to pay the price.
‘In Perth and Kinross, we have been hit by more than £2million of extra winter maintenance costs. We will end up with just a few hundred thousand pounds because of the Scottish Government’s sleight of hand.’
Yesterday, we revealed £105million was spent on 167,352 pothole repairs in 2013-14. But this fell to £97.4million on 157,255 repairs in 2016-17.
Although Cosla publicly welcomed the £10million of funding, it is understood some members are furious.
Scottish Lib Dem transport spokesman Mike Rumbles said: ‘It is easy to see the state of disrepair our roads are in. No wonder transport bosses have estimated the cost of repairing them all is £1.6billion.
‘It’s frustrating to see problems with roads mounting because of relentless underfunding by the Scottish Government. It must explain how it is going to bring our roads up to the standards people expect.’
Mr Mackay said the extra £10million was ‘a one-off discretionary payment’, adding: ‘I will not be increasing this sum.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘The local road network is the responsibility of local authorities and it is up to them to allocate resources based on their priorities.
‘However, we have allocated an additional £10million to them to assist with the cost of road maintenance and repair following the extended adverse weather.’