County Times Politically Speaking - Getting Powys moving

Potholes and poorly maintained roads are a frustration for us all. As well as making our journeys uncomfortable, they can seriously damage our vehicles as well as damaging the Mid Wales economy and society as a whole. 

 

It is essential that we here in Powys have a well-maintained road network to keep the county and country moving.

 

The road network is deteriorating after years of neglect, lack of investment and cuts to local authority budgets and this is taking its toll on the Mid Wales economy, with residents, businesses, and tourists all bearing the brunt of the Welsh Government’s failure to get it under control.

 

Here in Powys, like the rest of Wales, the state of our road network is becoming a more pressing talking point for residents and an issue which is high on the agenda of every local politician.

 

A fifth of all roads in Powys (19.6%) are considered to be in a poor condition, the worst average in the whole of Wales and to be brutally honest, it will take many years for all of these issues to be fully rectified. There are limitations to what local representatives such as councillors and AMs are able to do unless there is a political desire and a significant increase in funding to address the outstanding issues. Indeed, recent reports have claimed that it would take 24 years and hundreds of millions of pounds to clear the backlog of road repairs across the country.

 

So, while it is welcome news that the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Local Government, Alun Davies AM, has recently announced a one-off £30 million injection in funding to local councils which is designed to improve the state of roads in their respective areas, it is a drop in the ocean compared to the significant pressures which large counties such as Powys are under.

 

Powys covers by far the largest land area of the Welsh local authorities. It accounts for the highest proportion of all A Trunk roads (27 per cent), B and C roads (21 per cent) and minor surfaced roads (12 per cent), resulting in an overall 16 per cent of the total road length of Wales. Therefore, my view is that we deserve a much bigger slice of the cake when it comes to central government funding. Regrettably, the established highway allocation formula simply fails to recognise the vast geographical area which Powys covers and the unique challenge which this poses in maintaining our roads as Powys only received £2.4 million or 8% from the £30 million pot. This must change to ensure that Powys has adequate funding to make significant improvements to our highway network.

 

The National Assembly's Economy & Infrastructure Committee, which I have the privilege to chair, will be shortly conducting an inquiry which will look at the state of roads across the whole of Wales. In addition, the Committee will also look at the viability and value for money of major construction projects such as the Newtown Bypass.

 

Running alongside this Inquiry, I’m keen to know your views about the road network in our area.

 

The "State of the Roads" survey can be viewed and completed by visiting my website at www.russellgeorge.com/stateoftheroads and more information on how to report defects with the local road network can be found by visiting the Powys County Council website:http://www.powys.gov.uk/en/roads-transport-parking/