Cheshire East has been urged to plough an extra £2.7m into its highways budget amid claims it has “lost interest” in looking after its transport infrastructure (writes local democracy reporter Belinda Ryan).
Members of the council’s Highways and Transport Committee voted on Thursday to ask for the cash.
Vice-chair Laura Crane (Sandbach Ettiley Heath and Wheelock) said: “I would like to propose that we ask the corporate policy (committee) to consider allowing the highways and transport committee to take up to £3.9m. I quote that figure as the difference between our Government allocation in the 2019/20 year to 20/21.
“I see the new homes bonus scheme potentially as providing us with £2.694m of that £3.9m. I would ask them to consider the other pots to top that up.”
Earlier, the council had been criticised by two Conservative councillors for under-investing in roads.
Coun Mike Sewart (Poynton West and Adlington) said: “Looking at all the figures for expenditure on highways this council, to me, seems to have lost interest in providing or looking after its transport infrastructure. It spends less than any of the neighbouring authorities.”
Coun Rachel Bailey (Audlem) asked: “What is the Highway Committee going to do about this, please, to ensure that our infrastructure isn’t continually neglected like this?”
Coun Crane said highways was the council’s most heavily used asset and the most talked about by residents when it came to correspondence.
“I would deduce that, as far as residents are concerned, it is where we should be investing a significant proportion of our funds,” she said.
“I’d also say that this will help us with our revenue budget, which may free up some cash to spend on other issues that have been raised already with regard to gritting and the like, because if we can invest with our capital, we should, theoretically in the long term, have fewer potholes to deal with.”
Committee chair Coun Craig Browne (Alderley Edge) agreed that any additional funds the council had should be invested in capital infrastructure.
This year’s total settlement from the Government for the whole council was £6m more than had been budgeted for – this includes the £2.694m new homes bonus the Highways Committee is asking for.