Counties join forces for cash bid

LOCAL authorities across the East of England have joined forces to bid for government cash to help repair millions of pounds worth of damage to roads in the region caused by the ongoing drought conditions.

Information from the Environment Agency indicates that the fen areas of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Suffolk and Peterborough, are considered to be suffering drought conditions which have caused extensive damage to roads in the affected areas.

Now a group of local authorities is about to make a joint bid to government for financial aid to meet the cost of repairing the roads and is trying to enlist local MPs to help lobby for central funding.

Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, Councillor Steve Criswell, said: “The Environment Agency considers that an extensive area of the eastern region is still suffering drought conditions with low water levels.

“As a result of the drought the moisture content in the soil beneath the roads has fallen and the soil has shrunk causing serious damage to the roads – we have been trying to keep pace with the repair work, but now the extent of the damage means we need to look for assistance to meet the cost of carrying out the required extensive repairs which are well beyond the financial resources of individual local authorities in the region.”

The consortium of local authorities has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP, inviting her to view the road damage in the region and ‘requesting that the Government review their capital funding to be able to accept a formal bid for additional capital funding to enable damage caused by the drought to be rectified.’ The bid for Government funding is expected to be submitted at the end of February.

The local authorities are still working on a comprehensive list of problem sites, but the number across the region grows continuously with an ever-rising bill for repairs which is already estimated to run into several millions of pounds.

Local MPs have also been contacted and asked to lend their support for the bid for Government funding.