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Investment needed to improve our roads
THE Wiltshire councillor who oversees the region’s highways wants to see an extra £52m invested in road improvements.
Coun John Thomson is taking his recommendations to Tuesday’s cabinet meeting in Salisbury.
The investment would see the council’s annual highways budget increase to around £21m, with it reducing to a capital budget of £12m from 2020.
Coun Thomson, cabinet member for highways, said: “One of the big messages during the elections earlier this year was people calling for improvements to highways. Safety is always our main priority but this additional money would help us deal with general maintenance improving it for years to come.
“If we reduce things like potholes it will make our roads more suited to sustainable transport accommodating cyclists.”
The plan would see around 150 miles of roads resurfaced each year. Funding would come through a £20m bank loan, running for 20 years, and a maintenance grant from the Department for Transport.
Wiltshire Councillor Fleur de Rhé-Philipe, cabinet member for transport, said: “If we are going to do something like this then now is the right time as interest rates are low.”
If cabinet backs the motion, residents will be encouraged through their area boards to pinpoint highways maintenance issues that need dealing with.
During Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, three highways investment proposals will be put forward and if one is approved it will be adopted in the next financial year.
Coun Thomson said the investment was much needed because of a backlog created by a budget reduction in the 1990s and he had every confidence contractor Balfour Beatty Living Places could cope with any additional work.
Its £125m five-year contract has experienced numerous problems since launching in March.
A new free-to-download app called My Wiltshire, which allows the public to log highways complaints and receive feedback on repair status, has also been launched.
Coun Thomson also plans to hold a review of car parking in Wiltshire next year.