Lincolnshire County Council chief discusses Spalding, the A16 and roads funding
We need to invest more in Lincolnshire’s roads – but we need more money from the Government is the message from the county’s highways chief.
Coun Richard Davies, the county’s executive member for highways, says that greater investment needs to be made into Lincolnshire’s Strategic Network but to make a real difference the Government needs to give the council long-term assurances over its funding.
Lincolnshire County Council is receiving £12 million less from the government to spend on maintaining the area’s roads and has been forced to transfer £19 million from its reserves to help fund the shortfall. The county has a network of 5,500 miles of roads.
Coun Davies says the county’s roads are in a good position going into this winter but a sustained period of freezing and thawing weather could create problems – and people can do their bit by contacting MP Sir John Hayes to encourage him to lobby for more funding.
Speaking to this paper, Coun Davies said: “We are focusing on rural roads as most people use these roads. But fundamentally it comes back to funding.
“If the Government is really serious about maintaining Britain’s roads then they need to give us the security of giving us a five to 10 year budget.
“As an authority we are taking money out of our reserves so what we are spending in a sense is being taken away from other service areas. We have to make those difficult decisions.
“We will continue to lobby for more money. We can’t keep taking money out of reserves that are a limited thing. We are doing our best and we need national politicians to do their bit. Lincolnshire people can help by contacting their MP.
“When I go to London you jump off a brand new underground train, air conditioned trains - and we go back to Lincolnshire and you realise how underfunded we are.”
Earlier this year, the county council had to pull £27million earmarked for the construction of the Spalding Western Relief Road to go towards the costs of other big projects due to rising costs.
Coun Davies said that he could not say when the relief road, which is due to run along the western side of Spalding to link Pinchbeck and Spalding Common to help ease congestion in the town centre, will be built.
He said: “Spalding Western relief road comes back to national funding. “Nationally we have pet projects we can find money for.
“We need to invest in infrastructure.
“In reality the way we do infrastructure in the UK is a joke. It is ridiculously underfunded.”
Coun Davies said the authority has an ambitious programme of works and will be repairing the holey surfacing on the A16 at Crowland in the next 12 to 18 months.
Work has now started on a year-long project to increase the size of the Springfields roundabout along with adding extra entry and exit lanes using Levelling up money.
However there has been some criticism about starting this project at the same time as other roundabout improvements in Boston.
Coun Davies said that the money needed to be spent by the beginning of next year so they needed to push on with the projects.
He said: “It comes down to whether one chunk of pain for a year is better than a longer period of pain that seems slightly less.
“We need to invest in our network and to do that we need to get workers in, diggers, building stuff.
“It is frustrating and we ask people to bear with us. We need to invest money on Lincolnshrie’s roads - we need to have a strategic road network.
“Springfields will make a difference.”
Last week Coun Davies visited Spalding town centre and was impressed with the café culture feel outside the Red Lion Hotel in Market Place along with the nice ‘busy feel’.
But, speaking before the recent decision to install barriers, he called for more high visibility police to tackle low level crimes and anti-social behaviour.
He said: “The harsh reality is that we need to see a little bit more law enforcement in the UK - it doesn’t need to be high level fly around.
“One problem we have heard is about people driving the wrong way in Market Place and Hall Place. People often say ‘what are you going to do about it’.
“If you were on a regular basis driving through and there is a policeman, you think twice. You don’t need a sniper team, just need a bit more face to face policing.
“Whatever they want to say, low-level crime is not a priority.
“We need to do more as a local authority and highways authority.
“The signs at Market Place need to be cleaned and in mint condition.
“I think across the country we need more visibility than we currently have in our town centres and residential areas and roads.
“UK Police as a whole need to focus on low-level issues.”