Milton Keynes Council will have £1.3m less next year to spend next year on planned highways maintenance after a crafty cut by the Conservative government.
Earlier this week the government announced the annual grant funding local authorities receive for both annual maintenance and short term repairs. Local MPs were quick to heap praise on the government.
However, it can now be revealed that MK Council will now receive £1.3m LESS to undertake long term work such as resurfacing, dropped kerbs and safety works, with that grant being cut from £4.1m this year to £2.8m. The government now insist that the rest of the funding is spent on short term pothole repairs rather than improving the overall quality of the road.
Labour councillors have reacted with dismay to the cut and have called the funding announcement a political stunt for the benefit of grabbing headlines by local MPs that will end up costing more in the long term.
Cllr Emily Darlington, Cabinet Member for Highways said: “The Conservative government has cut £1.3m from the grant Milton Keynes Council receives for long term highways maintenance, which will mean that we will be able to resurface fewer roads, install fewer dropped kerbs and bring forward fewer safety schemes.”
She continued: “Earlier this week our Conservative MPs made a big deal about this money. However, on closer inspection it turns out to be slight of hand by the government. They’ve slashed the money we get to make roads better in the long-term and they are now insisting we spend the difference on short term repairs instead. It’s such a short-sighted decision designed solely to get a headline but will end up costing more money. Sadly it’s exactly the sort of cheap stunt Boris Johnson loves, but behind the bluster there it’s shallow trickery.”
She concluded: “A Labour-run MK Council has spent 7 years fixing the mess the previous Conservative administration left our roads in. The reality is that long-term investment in highways needs to go hand in hand with better quality pothole repairs. This Tory cut to our budget will make that long-term investment harder, all so that their MPs could issue a press release.”