IT may not be enough, but it is what we can afford was the message from councillors regarding plans to borrow £10million to repair the borough’s failing roads.
The loan, announced at February’s budget meeting by council leader Rishi Shori, was approved at last week’s cabinet meeting.
A total of around £17million will be paid back over a 40-year period in £427,000 instalments.
Cllr Sandra Walmsley said: “The highway network is deteriorating faster than it can be improved.
“It’s the most expensive thing we own and we could borrow another £10million, £20million, £50million or £100million and I still don’t think it would be enough, but we all know there are problems with the road infrastructure.
“It’s not enough to cover every area of the borough, but it’s what we see as a reasonable amount to cover some key areas.”
The 660km of roads managed by the council is deteriorating at a rate of around £5million per year. Annual spending on the roads amounts to £1.2million.
Cllr Shori added the £10million would allow the council to focus on ‘arterial routes’.
He said: “It’s an ambitious way of doing it but we can live within our means and I think it’s a good start.”
The money will be targeted at the borough’s worst routes, with £5.7million for main roads, £4million for housing estates and £300,000 for pavements.
Work done will vary. The worst roads will probably have to be resurfaced, but those in better condition could receive cheaper forms of repair like ‘micro asphalt’ which can restore road surfaces.
Cllr Walmsley said: “The pothole repairs are sticking plasters on poor road infrastructure.
“We need to spend the money to improve the overall infrastructure.”
As well as the loan, the council intends to improve its standing in terms of delivering value for money on highways.
An improvement in how the council is ‘banded’ would mean more money could be allocated from a £6billion Department for Transport fund.
Cllr Walmsley said: “We have to be able to demonstrate we are following best practice to get funding. The capital coming from the government has been decreasing at the same time the roads have been deteriorating.
“We will try and increase the banding to attract more funding.”