Road money row

COUNTY chiefs have today been accused of sitting on £1.25million of road maintenance money it is claimed was allocated to be spent this year.

By NEIL PUFFETT

political reporter

neil.puffett@eveningstar.co.uk>

COUNTY chiefs have today been accused of sitting on £1.25million of road maintenance money it is claimed was allocated to be spent this year.


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Suffolk's Labour group say that only half of £2.5million the Conservative administration allocated as a "one-off investment in highways" in February's budget will be spent this year.

They claim the Tories don't make efficient use of the cash set aside for roads projects and the leftover money need not have been budgeted - which would have meant lower council tax rates.

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Kevan Lim, deputy leader of Suffolk's Labour group is calling for a “fundamental review” of how money is spent to ensure better use is made of it.

He said: “Suffolk's road users deserve better than a highways system held together by 'one-off' emergency cash injections - and they are let down even more when these sums don't even get spent.

“We need an end to this haphazard way of funding road maintenance and a real, long-term investment plan put in its place."

Jane Storey, portfolio holder for resource management and transformation, defended the council's road spending record.

She said: “We're not sitting on the money as suggested by councillor Lim.

“The £2.5million was a one-off supplement to the highways maintenance budget.

“This was not directed to specific projects - it is spread pretty widely in two main areas of activity: the annual surface dressing programme and minor reactive repairs.

“We always planned to spend this additional money over two years - 2008/9 and 2009/10.

“To date, £1.25million has been allocated, but this will be reviewed during the remainder of the year.

“However I would estimate that around 75 per cent of the £1.25million allocated to 2008/9 has already been spent, mainly because surface dressing is a seasonal activity and is now completed.”

n. Are you happy with the state of the county's roads? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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