Around £9 million will be spent on maintaining or making some improvements to Calderdale’s roads this year – but councillors want more information about where it is spent.
Place Scrutiny Board members heard Calderdale Council’s highways service lead, Steven Lee, outline a draft programme which should see around £4.3 million spent on maintaining carriageways, structures and street lighting, with additional projects using cash awards from Integrated Transport, Department for Transport Safer Roads and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport funds together totalling around £4.8 million.
The figures include anticipated spending of £561,000 on classified roads and £1.8 million on the unclassified road network.
But Coun Bryan Smith (Lab, Ovenden), while congratulating the highways team on good performance which means should enable the council to receive the maximum £661,000 extra funding from Government as well as £222,000 already secured from the central purse to help tackle potholes, wanted to know why some areas were getting more schemes than others.
“My concern is the allocation of this money – the report recommends quite a number of schemes but as far as North Halifax is concerned it is a bit of a let down,” he said.
He and ward colleagues had been pressing for improvements to a major route like Cousin Lane, for example, for five years without success, he said, while the Calder Valley area was seeing far more schemes being undertaken.
“Why is there no transparency in schemes allocated, why does Calder Valley get them while other areas of Calderdale are waiting?” said Coun Smith.
“For five years we’ve been getting nowhere and get jip from constituents.
“Cousin Lane has so many divots and potholes it’s unbelievable.”
Mr Lee said Cousin Lane would be a major scheme with three roundabouts and linking contraflows and was scheduled to be done next year.
He invited all councillors to visit his team where he would take them through the process and programme they used to provide the service.
Board chair Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said he sympathised. “If there were 20 schemes in North Halifax, I would be upset. We need to be transparent,” he said.
The council’s Regeneration and Strategy Director Mark Thompson said he was interested in the points Coun Smith was making and the department would look at the issue.
He said: “It’s not just the number of schemes but their scale – last year the major road through Mixenden was renewed that was a big chunk of money on a very significant road.
“But we should do that test and see how it pans out over a number of years.”
Mr Lee added that there were reasons why money was spent on the roads it was and there was no “skewing” in terms of policy, it was all about the highway.
The council had to be more and more innovative to get best value for money. “We try and spread funding as far as we can,” he said.