North Yorkshire County Council is boosting funding for essential road repairs by a further £15 million.
This will bring the total of new money committed to highways maintenance this summer to nearly £50m.
The additional £15m, announced at the quarterly council meeting, will support the government’s recently announced provisional allocation of £24m. This follows the county council’s bid for funds to improve maintenance of the county’s rural roads network to help support the growth of rural economies.
Alongside the government’s £24m provisional allocation, the £15m boost is intended to ensure a long-term programme of additional highway maintenance through to 2021.
“North Yorkshire is the biggest county in size with a largely rural and dispersed population. For that reason maintaining our road network is vital if we are to support our businesses, attract inward investment and contribute to good quality of life for our residents,” said council leader John Weighell.
“We have been fortunate that the county’s MPs have worked with us and we thank them for their hard work in helping to secure substantial levels of extra funding from Westminster. The further £15m we have announced today means that in total almost £50m of additional funds will be available for vital maintenance of our roads over the next seven years. This will make a significant difference to the extent and longer-term quality of the work we can undertake.”
Earlier this year, Cllr Weighell met Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin after sending him a personal letter outlining the nature and scale of the financial challenges facing North Yorkshire’s highways maintenance operations and seeking government aid to maintain and improve the rural network.
In his letter, Cllr Weighell revealed that a quarter of the county’s minor roads – which cover a distance of 5,000 kilometres and constitute more than half the network – are in urgent need of repairs. He warned that the issue was “rapidly becoming a crisis”.
The topography of North Yorkshire means the county’s highways are vulnerable to extreme weather, while its dispersed population and rural economy make the minor roads particularly important.
Cllr Weighell added: “We have an extensive road network that has been badly hit by some extreme weather and this new funding won’t deal with every issue. However, over the next six years, it will make a welcome impact.”