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Liberal Democrats slam tory council for years of ‘neglecting’ Kent roads

PUBLISHED: 17:12 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:12 21 February 2018

Cllr Mike Whiting, admitted the maintenance backlog of roads is about £630m and could rise. Picture: Paul Jerreat

Cllr Mike Whiting, admitted the maintenance backlog of roads is about £630m and could rise. Picture: Paul Jerreat

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Liberal Democrat councillors have slammed the Conservatives at Kent County Council for “years of neglecting” roads in Kent.

Conservative cabinet member for highways, Cllr Mike Whiting, admitted last month the maintenance backlog of roads is about £630m and could rise to £1bn in a decade.

The opposition claims Tory councillors “ignored successive warnings” and the budget, set to be debated tomorrow, does not cover the shortfall.

Ian Chittenden, Lib Dem spokesman for transport, said: “The sums allocated by the Conservatives for the upkeep of KCC maintained roads are pitifully small.

“Our roads are in managed decline.”

The draft budget has allocated £27.7m next year and an additional £2.4m from the council’s reserves to be spent over two years for highways maintenance.

However, Liberal Democrats say that the spending of reserves should be doubled.

Cllr Chittenden added: “Cyclists and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to poor road conditions and more potholes.

“The elderly will be at further risk where pavements deteriorate.

“The situation is fast becoming critical.

“Kent’s roads and footways will continue to decline and, if we do nothing now, we’ll face an even bigger bill in the future.

“The extra funds proposed by the Liberal Democrats will allow some of the highest priority repairs to be addressed.”

In January, Cllr Whiting appealed to Westminster for extra cash to fix potholes, protect bridges, unclog drains and maintain Kent’s 125,000 street lights.

At the time, he said: “There is huge disparity in funding between councils across the country, which experience vastly differing traffic levels, and between the Highways England and local highway networks.

“We believe the current formula is unsustainable – roads in Kent carry significantly higher volumes of freight than much of the rest of the country.

“Kent is the gateway to Europe and consequently the number of vehicles – some seven billion miles of journeys a year – use our roads and it inevitably takes its toll.”

Cllr Whiting declined to comment.

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