The Bury Times is reporting today that the cabinet of Bury’s Labour-controlled council met last night to rubber stamp a £10 million pound loan, to be repaid over forty years. The money will be used to fix potholes and resurface roads across the borough. Regular readers of my blog will know I have written often about the state of our roads (mainly those in Unsworth and Whitefield granted) and a quick look through my ‘roads’ archive here show that the problem is extensive. Our roads are a real mess and have been for some time.
This has been pointed out by Bury Lib Dem group leader Councillor Tim Pickstone who said “£10 million is just a drop in the ocean for what actually needs to be done. Last year Stockport Council borrowed £100 million to invest into their roads but that only repaired one third of the borough’s roads. Although it seems a lot it’s not going to go anywhere, we should be borrowing more. It’s nowhere near enough to repair all the potholes and roads across the borough.”
I agree with Councillor Pickstone. Loan rates are at an all-time low. We could borrow enough to fix all the road properly across Bury and then instigate a fully funded maintenance programme. The Bury Times article states ‘The Bury road network is said to be depreciating at a rate of £5 million per year – but only £1.2 million a year is being spent on it. Over the last three years the council has paid out an average of £1.2 million for highway related claims. In the last year, 229 claims were brought against the council, with 65 per cent being successful.’
These are shocking statistics. The same Bury Times article also states ‘it is intended borrowing costs would be funded through reduced patching costs and fewer insurance claims.’ I counter-claim that this suggestion is nothing more than pie-in-the-sky economics and is not backed up by a sound business case. Lastly, and most worrying from a budget point of view, the council has said that initial borrowing costs would be paid for out of the council’s reserves, to a total of £611,000. But what about the ongoing costs?
This is another example of Bury’s Labour party mismanaging our roads and mismanaging the borough’s finances. £10m will provide a superficial patching at best (which will soon break down) however every single council tax payer in Bury will have to pay for this ‘quick fix’ for the next four decades. What do you think? Let me know by commenting below.