Great Debate: Is the £10,000 given to councillors enough for road repairs?
COUNTY councillors were each given £10,000 in October last year to spend on road repairs in their wards. We asked two councillors whether the £10,000 was really enough to have an impact and improve the standards of the roads?
Councillor Ceri Jones (LD, Cleeve) said more needs to be done to help the community with road problems:
Naturally, I was happy to accept the £10,000 granted to each county councillor for work on our roads.
Following discussions with our highways manager and members of the parish council, we agreed to put the money towards the much-needed resurfacing of two of our village roads.
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This will, of course, help us to make much-needed repairs to those particular stretches of the highway.
However, I do not believe the scheme goes far enough.
So many of Gloucestershire's roads are in an appalling state – it is a message all of the councillors hear regularly from residents. The county council is holding large amounts of money in reserve.
Last spring, some of us proposed that £5 million of those reserves should be pumped into our broken highways and pavements.
As a headteacher, I believed the public money I was allocated each year was for the benefit of the pupils currently attending the school, not to be stored away as some sort of symbol of virtue.
Yes, retain adequate savings – but not at the cost of urgent needs. The same is true of the council tax.
Residents do not expect it to be stored for a rainy day while storms rage around them.
When we proposed the £5 million expenditure, the council's administration piously accused us of recklessness and rejected the proposal.
However, last autumn – months before the council elections – they come up with this headline-grabbing scheme, which only scrapes the surface of the problems we are currently facing.
And what else did we find?
An endless stream of press releases pouring out of the council praising the scheme and giving constant publicity to this tokenism.
Gloucestershire County Council's cabinet member for communities, Councillor Will Windsor-Clive (C, Newent), explains why the scheme has been effective:
We launched the Highways Local scheme in 2012 to give communities the chance to have a say on highways work in their area.
This is new cash separate from the highways budget, on top of the council's normal planned works.
County councillors are our closest link to these communities, so it makes sense for them to be more involved and to tell us which highways schemes would best meet the needs of people in their area.
Each county councillor in Gloucestershire has been given £10,000 a year to spend on these local priorities.
Many have already put works in motion that will benefit their communities, including everything from resurfacing and pothole repairs to drainage and safety schemes.
In total, we are working on more than 200 schemes on behalf of all 63 councillors.
This builds on the council's Highways – Your Way scheme, which was launched in 2011 and this year gave parish councils, residents' associations and community groups a total of £300,000 to choose additional highways services in their area.
I'm sure some councillors would like more money.
I know, as the councillor responsible, I'd love to spend more on our roads.
But councils have to make very difficult savings at the minute.
People in Gloucestershire just can't afford the sort of massive council tax hikes that the Liberal Democrats and Labour used to force through.
We've got to do the best we can with what we've got – and in that context, like a certain supermarket says, every little helps.