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Road repairs spending in York sparks conflict
CITY leaders say they have performed “a miracle” over spending on road repairs despite figures showing money for highway maintenance in York has fallen.
The Conservative group on City of York Council said information from the authority’s officers revealed a 2013/14 budget covering work on roads and other areas will stand at £6.595 million, £2.65 million less than two years ago.
The Tories said the ruling Labour group only met a commitment to increase the highways maintenance budget, made when they took power in 2011, by boosting it through £282,000 in “one-off” funding in 2011/12 while reducing year-on-year expenditure by £222,000. They said subsequent decreases had created a funding gap which would store up problems for the future.
Coun David Levene, Labour’s cabinet member for environmental services, said the Conservatives had painted a misleading picture over money for road repairs, as the highways maintenance budget also includes streetlighting, signs, drainage, bus shelters, cycle paths and bridge maintenance.
“York’s roads are sliding into disrepair each year as the gap between what is required and spent increases,” said Conservative councillor Paul Healey.
“We are passing the cost on to future generations while prioritising projects and foreign trips of dubious value.
“Next year’s figures would be even lower without £318,000 from the Government, ring-fenced for road maintenance.”
Coun Healey also criticised Labour for not supporting his party’s 2013/14 budget amendment last month, which the Tories said would have meant an extra £1 million annually for “basic road maintenance” over the next four years, partly paid for by axing plans for city-wide 20mph speed limits.
Coun Levene said: “Coun Healey has lumped a number of budgets separate to road maintenance together, such as those for bus shelters and street signs, for the purpose of political gain.
“The reality is that spending specific to road maintenance in 2011-12 was subject to a one-off Government allocation, and was artificially inflated relative to the typical annual spend in this area.
“The fact we have been able to ensure almost £2 million is spent on roads in 2013/14, in the face of unprecedented and hugely damaging Government cuts, is something of a miracle.
“We know roads are a high priority for the public, and our spending commitments reflect that.”