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Volume 527: debated on Thursday 5 May 2011

On 24 March, we wrote to all local highway authorities informing them of their share of an additional £200 million, which we have made available for repairing damage to their road networks following the severe winter weather at the end of last year. The funding was paid to authorities on Monday 28 March this year.

I thank the Minister for his reply and for the generous grant of £2 million recently received by my local authority of Cheshire East. However, the council has a £100 million shortfall in planned maintenance of its highways network, and it is unable to commit funding to upgrade junction 17 of the M6, which is in my constituency and frequently causes major traffic problems. Can the Minister offer any help to the local authority as it tries to address the problem with partner organisations?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her welcome for the extra funds made available. It is worth putting on record that we have committed £3 billion for highway maintenance over a four-year period in addition to the £200 million that was announced this year, so despite the difficult economic circumstances, we are prioritising moneys for highway maintenance. I am not aware of the particular junction, but if my hon. Friend writes to me with further details I will happily get a reply to her on the matter.

If the main excuse given by failing authorities is that they are short of resources, will the Minister consider instructing them to stop installing speed humps and to use the tarmac they save to fill in the potholes?

That is a novel and interesting suggestion, but I do not think it is the job of Transport Ministers to direct local councils how to spend their money.