Allocation of funds on pothole repair

Mr C J Kent asked if I have noticed that the Department for Transport, where I am a minister, allocates funding for roads and road maintenance to local councils.

Indeed I have noticed. I allocate much of it. I hope in turn he will have noticed that the amount of money allocated to councils such as East Sussex is more in this four-year spending period than in the previous four years under the last government.

In other words, this area of expenditure has been protected from cuts.

A better question, if I may suggest this to Mr Kent, is why, when funding to East Sussex County Council for road maintenance has gone up, our local roads are in such a shocking state, and noticeably worse than four years ago.

I suggest one reason might be that potholes that are “mended” too often re-emerge as potholes not long after.

Another might be that unless a pothole has been circled for action, it is not repaired, even if a team is out to mend a circled pothole next to it.

A third might be that in the last year, ESCC has paid out over £600,000 in response to claims from the public from pothole damage. This is a complete waste of public money which wouldn’t have had to be spent if the roads had been kept in a decent condition in the first place.

Lastly, it is not accurate to suggest that the totality of funding for roads is the sum allocated for road maintenance. This does not, for example, take account of the many millions being spent on upgrading the A23 or building the controversial Bexhill-Hastings link road, or monies allocated under schemes like the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

He implies that all monies raised from motorists should be spent on roads. That arrangement in fact ended in 1937.

Motoring taxes help to pay for, among other things, our free health and education systems. I trust he is not suggesting they should be required to charge users so that he can have a bit more tarmac.

Norman Baker MP

Lib Dem-Lewes