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03.08.17

Local authorities handed £75m fund to boost transport infrastructure

Councils have today been awarded a £75m tranche of funding to go towards improving the state of England’s bridges, junctions and flood defences.

A total of 19 projects being led by local councils will share the fund, which are looking to cut congestion, reduce journey times and improve the reliability of roads across the country.

Local authorities were invited to put forward schemes in their areas which would make a major difference to road users, and winning bids include projects to improve junctions, repair and resurface roads, put in flood resilience measures, undertake bridge and viaduct refurbishment and improve drainage.

“We are taking the big decisions for Britain’s future by investing in the infrastructure the country needs and ensuring motorists have the well-maintained roads they expect and deserve,” said transport minister Jesse Norman.

“This investment will enable councils to repair roads and key infrastructure like bridges – boosting reliability on our roads so people can stay connected with family, friends and employment, while also keeping businesses connected with customers.

“Most of the schemes will be delivered within the next 12 months, so many drivers will see an immediate impact.”

Projects that will receive the money include a £4.6m refurbishment of the A589 Greyhound Bridge in Lancashire to enable HGVs to cross, as well as a major carriageway and drainage renewal scheme to regenerate the A361, boosting access from Devon to the M5.

And in Northumberland, £5m will be distributed for crucial maintenance to repair and strengthen key routes for the rural and regional economy.

The improvements come as part of a £6.1bn programme of road improvements in England to be rolled out over the next six months.

Last month, the government also published its new transport strategy which explained how local areas would benefit from increased transport investment, something county councils described as a “welcome change in direction”.

Funding positive, but longer-term investment still needed

Council leaders have also responded to this latest announcement, saying that while the funds were welcome, the announcement still needed to be viewed under the context of local authority underfunding. 

Cllr Martin Tett, transport spokesman for the LGA, commented: “Any additional funding to councils for roads maintenance enables councils to make a difference not just for motorists, but for businesses and infrastructure in their local area.

“This funding, and recent government announcements pledging more money for local roads is positive, but has to be viewed in the context that councils face a £12bn roads repair backlog bill.”

He added that councils need long-term and consistent investment, which enables them to plan ahead and invest taxpayers’ money as effectively as possible, similar to how agencies such as Highways England operates, if we’re to bring our local roads up to scratch.

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