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‘More cash needed to repair our roads’
BUSY roads in central Oxford are being left to ruin because highways cash is not being dished out according to need, a county councillor has said.
Ward member for West Central Oxford Susanna Pressel said the county council’s methods for deciding where to spend roads money were “ludicrous”.
She said roads leading off Banbury Road were particularly bad and called for more to be done to improve the condition for motorists and cyclists.
Oxfordshire County Council is the highways authority but gives the city council funds to repair and maintain smaller, local roads.
The city council’s budget was cut from £1.5m for its roads in 2011/12 to £1.2m for 2012/13.
Mrs Pressel said officers were pressured into spending on major projects by the county council and found there was not enough left over to fix smaller roads.
Deputy leader of the county council Rodney Rose said the city should take more responsibility for how it spends its money.
But Mrs Pressel said the city was not happy with the how the funding was dished out.
Mrs Pressel said: “Instead of sharing out the money for day-to-day maintenance according to need, they share it out in proportion to the length of roadway in each district, so only six per cent comes to the city for the unclassified roads.
“No account is taken of wear and tear, and yet we have so many more people using even the minor roads in the city.
“And no account is taken of the length of the pavements.
“Many rural roads don’t have them and where they do exist, they are often little used, but the ones in the city are mostly very well used and therefore in need of maintenance – they shouldn’t just be ignored in the spending allocation.
“The city highway engineers are tearing their hair out trying to keep the city roads usable on such a tiny budget.
“Mr Rose tries to say that lots of money is spent on big schemes like Iffley Road, but that is from the capital budget or direct from the Government and has nothing to do with how they choose to allocate the maintenance budget.”
Mr Rose said: “I can only say again that I believe the split in highway finance to be fair, that the city council in its wish to be a minor transport authority found it fair, and that I do not propose to renegotiate the terms.
“The local roads in the city are maintained by the city council. This was at their choice, at a funding level agreed between both councils under what is called a Section 42 Agreement.”
He added: “Alternatively, they have the option of topping up the amount spent on road and pavement maintenance. I hear that paying for highway is not one of their core responsibilities, yet I note a large financial grant to education, plus five-star toilet provision.”
City council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We do receive funding from Oxfordshire County Council for road maintenance and work with them to ensure that the repairs are carried out in line with both our priorities.”