Cold facts of �20m damage to roads

URGENT repairs to ensure Suffolk's roads are safe for motorists are needed after it was revealed a staggering �20million worth of damage was caused by the cold weather.

URGENT repairs to ensure Suffolk's roads are safe for motorists are needed after it was revealed a staggering �20million worth of damage was caused by the cold weather.

The freezing temperatures, ice and snow, has resulted in widespread pot hole damage to road surfaces county-wide leaving highways chiefs with a major challenge.

There is no emergency repair money available form the Government, and Guy McGregor, the county council's transport portfolio holder, said it was essential the authority spent what money there was quickly and efficiently.

Mr McGregor said if the road network, which totals some 4,068 miles, is not maintained properly it will lead to more deaths on Suffolk's roads.

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He said: 'If you don't maintain the highways to a safe condition the chances are the number of accidents will rise, and the number of people injured and killed on the roads will rise as well. If we don't spend money there will be more accidents on the roads.'

Facing the daunting �20m bill to repair the widespread damage Mr McGregor admitted the recent big freeze has set the highways authorities back a year in terms of roads maintenance.

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He accused the Government of gross 'failure and incompetence' paralysing the long-term maintenance of the county's roads network by wasting precious public money on the recent local government review.

Mr McGregor said every pound wasted on the review by the government was a pound not spent on frontline services for the people of the county.

'It is true to say this weather has set us back, quantity speaking, a years maintenance. Twenty million pounds is the true cost of the severe weather, what it will cost us to repair the damage that has been done,' he said.

'We will be making sure all the potholes, particularly the dangerous ones. They will be filled and repaired, I have money in the budget to do that.

'But in the longer term the issue needs to be addressed.

'A council can only spend a pound once and if you spend a pound on expensive government re-organisation and expensive public inquiries that is another pound less to be spent on road maintenance.

'We have been left hanging for the last two to three years when it has almost been impossible to engage in long term contracts with suppliers. If we were to have gone to a company and negotiated a 10-year deal they would not have agreed because we may not have been here in two years time. So we have been forced into more expensive short term contracts.

'This is the price we pay for government incompetence and dithering. A failure by the government to get a grip.'

Mr McGregor vowed to provide a quality and efficient service to ensure every pound spent on the roads in Suffolk is money well spent.

'There is no extra money, the government has blown it all. So what is the solution for Suffolk,' he added. 'We need to establish longer term contracts with suppliers to be as efficient as possible. We do not want a reactive service but one of planned maintenance of the highways.'

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