MONEY pitched into Hereford’s two new link road projects should be spread around the county to meet a road repair bill now well into millions of pounds.
The claim comes as a response to Herefordshire Council publishing its draft annual service plan which outlines the extent of road repairs and what is needed to make them happen.
But It’s Our County (IOC) group leader Councillor Anthony Powers said the council cannot now catch up with road repairs unless there is a radical change in policy direction.
That change, said Cllr Powers, started with sharing link road sums around the county rather than funding “one or two” new road schemes.
More than 1,100 miles of road in the county is now classed as needing major repair and there are questions inside and outside of council as to how much overall difference £20m of upfront investment in related works will make.
Last week, the Hereford Times reported two Hereford link roads – one between Commercial Road and Edgar Street, the other from the Rotherwas enterprise zone to the A465 – were part of a £70m funding bid put to the government by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.
Around 1,100 miles of the county’s roads are now judged as needing significant repair – that’s more than half of the road miles in the county.
“Nearly 350 of those road miles assessed as urgent, and only half of this distance is covered by the £20m up-front road investment at the start of the council’s service contract with Balfour Beatty, that means that 90% of the existing repairs needed are still unaffordable - we simply cannot see how the council and its new contractor will ever catch up with road maintenance,” said Cllr Powers.
Councillor Phillip Price, cabinet member for infrastructure said the overall investment in the county’s roads would make a real difference as larger than seen in many years.
“However, we will need to sustain levels of investment over future years to bring all our roads up to an acceptable standard and keep them there,” he said.
The Annual Plan will be approved and published in May with parish councils being briefed later.
It is already apparent that, with the plan’s focus on roads, routine services such as grass cutting and street cleansing will see significant reductions.