Min­is­ter snubs plea for ex­tra cash to tackle pot­hole plague

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Michael Black­ley Scottish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

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.’

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