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Call for more funding for roads repairs

By SPP Reporter

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A deep pothole on a Highland road
A deep pothole on a Highland road

EFFORTS to persuade Highland Council to pump millions of pounds more into road repairs over the next decade will be made next week.

Senior opposition councillors Isobel McCallum and Billy Barclay have tabled a motion to be debated at a meeting of the authority in Inverness on Thursday, 28th June, calling for a "substantial" increase in the cash spent on roads.

The Independent group wants the council to divert more funds into the transport, environmental and community services budget over a 10-year period.

Councillor McCallum said there had been a widespread cross-party consensus within the authority that major investment was needed on the region’s crumbling road network, which is more than 4000 miles long.

The Ross-shire councillor, who was part of the former Independent, Liberal Democrat and Labour administration, claimed it had set the ball rolling by spending an extra £2 million on pothole repairs earlier this year.

She has now urged the new coalition, led by the SNP with the other two parties, to take up the baton and push roads investment further up the agenda.

Councillor McCallum said there had been discussions within the council last autumn about its long-term investment on roads.

"There was quite a consensus throughout the council that the roads might need particular attention, they have been low priority," she said.

"That is why we put in £2 million. We put the first trance of money down. "But we are going to need a lot more investment in roads and it is what the electorate want. The figure has to be pretty high, it has to be substantial. The £2 million was a start but it was just really firefighting.

"People say there is no money but the council has a £600 million budget."

An estimated £161 million is needed to tackle a huge backlog of repairs to the sprawling road network but there is only £27.5 million in the council budget.

In its newly published programme, the administration said it intended to carry out a survey of roads, involve the community in identifying key repair work and carry out more preventative schemes including drainage and gully cleaning to protect the surfaces of routes.

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