Millions needed to repair roads

Pothole in Elwick Road
Pothole in Elwick Road

POTHOLE experts say millions more pounds are needed to patch up Hartlepool’s huge backlog of crumbling roads.

Hartlepool Borough Council has a £27m shortfall for the work it wishes to carry out.

Mike Blair, the council’s highways, traffic and transport manager echoed calls by the Asphalt Industry Alliance which yesterday called for more Government funding to deal with the problem.

A report said councils nationally need £10.5bn to bring roads back to a good condition, yet they face budget shortfalls totalling £829m.

Mr Blair said: “The situation in Hartlepool is pretty much the same as the rest of the country.

“We are suffering a massive shortfall in funding and have done for the last 20 years or so.

“The highway network is the single biggest asset the local authority is responsible for.

“If vehicles can’t use the roads businesses won’t locate here, people need to be able to get to work.

“The worse state the roads are in the harder everything is.

“In terms of resurfacing and patching roads I’ve got about £1m a year.

“If the government could come up with any of the shortfall we would gladly accept it.”

Roads around town have suffered significantly once again due to the long hard winter.

Last December, Hartlepool council was given £142,000 towards road repairs for the current financial year and £79,000 for 2014/15.

Yet Mr Blair said its annual highway maintenance budget is closer to £700,000 and a the council spends a further £300,000 on patch up works.

Alan McKenzie, chairman of the Asphalt Industry Association, said: “When you add up all the costs incurred it’s hard to understand why central government cannot find a way to invest in this much-needed work and save on higher costs in the future.”

A new survey by the AA found that nearly two thirds of North East motorists say road conditions have got worse in the last two years.