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SIDMOUTH: Councillor calls for PM to assess road damage

Friday, 24 January 2014

A Sidmouth councillor has called for the Prime Minister to visit Devon to see the damage done to the county’s roads by the recent bad weather.
Devon County Councillor Stuart Hughes, who is a cabinet member for Highway Management and Flood Prevention, wrote to David Cameron last week detailing the “massive” impact that stormy conditions have had on Devon’s roads.
Councillor Hughes also asked for the opportunity to discuss concerns over road maintenance with Ministers and Government officials.
In the letter, Councillor Hughes said: “Continued Central Government cuts in funding for highway maintenance are a major long-standing problem in Devon. The previous Government pursued a policy that unfairly favoured urban areas and we have never recovered from that. We are unable to stop the continued deterioration of the highway network and we see a massive backlog building up for the future.
“Whilst we were fortunate to receive around £3million of Bellwin funding from the Government last year, this only went part way towards addressing the county council’s actual bill of £18million for damage to its highways.
“In contrast, the Winter Damage Grant we received from Government in 2010 and 2011 after consecutive severe winters had a much more positive effect in tackling the deterioration of the network and it would be helpful if there was a similar response from Government in the light of the current conditions and the impacts of last winter.”
Councillor Hughes requested that Mr Cameron should visit the area to consider the difficulties Devon is currently facing with an estimated £750million backlog to bring all of its road network up to a good standard.
Councillor Hughes added: “During the Christmas storm events the authorities worked in close collaboration to predict, monitor and respond to events and provide the best possible support to communities and individuals. We are now working hard to repair the damage caused by the storms.
“The damage to Devon’s highways network, the largest in England, is a particular concern for the local economy and resilience of our communities. The immediate clear up and cleaning work is only part of the challenge, and with high water tables, a saturated highway network, and predicted freezing conditions to come, the impact on the safety and condition of our highways could be massive.”


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