Millions of pounds assigned for Calderdale highways schemes and to fix crumbling roads
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet have approved the borough’s Highways Capital programme for 2021-22, £13.75 million covering a range of schemes.
They also agreed to spend £1.97 million needed to make its major depot at Ainley, Elland, fit for purpose and meeting health and safety requirements, such as keeping pedestrians and vehicles as separate as possible.
And they will also link up with neighbouring Rochdale Council to create a community rail partnership for the Calder Valley line, helping existing community groups and pressing the case for rail as part of COVID recovery, at a first year cost of £20,000.
The Highways Capital Programme takes in projects ranging from maintaining Calderdale’s roads to keeping its traffic light systems in good working order.
It also includes major road improvement works, for example five schemes which are in the budget funded by West Yorkshire Transport Fund cash.
Among initiatives this year the council is looking to invest in new equipment to improve pothole repairs.
Cabinet heard the Government has awarded £2 million for the council to tackle potholes but this is less than last year and overall the Government is giving the council £1.37 million less this year to maintain highways.
A Liberal Democrat 541-signature Fix Our Streets petition the potholes issue had been debated at the council’s Place Scrutiny Board and asked for the council to improve the quality of repairs.
Coun James Baker (Lib Dem, Warley) called for more investment in the latest technological equipment and more cost-benefit analysis to be done.
Coun Guy Beech (Con, Illingworth and Mixenden) also raised, at the scrutiny board and Cabinet public question time, the issue of the quality of repairs.
The council’s Head of Highways and Transportation, Steven Lee, told board members the council was looking at a new JCB machine which had come onto the market and the authority hoped to fund one next year.
Pothole money is ring-fenced, he said, and cannot be spent on other things.
Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) told the board central Government highway budget cuts were disappointing, but the authority would manage the budget to see what could be done.
She said repair challenges faced by authorities were different.
“Members need to realise each borough is different in terms of its geography, weather and historic investment in roads, but we are trying to improve,” she said.
Coun Stephanie Clarke (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) asked if the machine the council was trialling would produce permanent repairs. “That should save us thousands and thousands, no repeated filling of the same hole,” she said.
At Cabinet several days later, Coun Scullion confirmed money in the budget – £200,000 – was included for innovative permanent pothole setup costs.
Some repairs were “pack and whacked” as they had to be legally completed within a certain number of days, she added.
She said the LED street lighting programme, set up on an invest-to-save basis, was saving the council around £1 million a year in energy costs.