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Road Repairs

Volume 641: debated on Thursday 24 May 2018

The Department for Transport is providing just over £6 billion to local highway authorities in England, outside London, for highways maintenance funding from 2015 up to 2021. Of course, my hon. Friend will be aware of the £296 million pothole action fund.

I welcome the prospect of upgrades to main roads in west Oxfordshire, financed through the housing infrastructure fund and the growth deal, but what are Ministers doing to ensure that small rural roads in areas such as West Oxfordshire, which often bear the brunt of winter damage, are not neglected and are also maintained to a high standard?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise that point, especially in the light of the recent very bad bouts of weather we have had, which have particularly affected local roads. Until then, it was true that the A and B roads were improving over time but that that leaves out the C and the U roads. A more strategic approach needs to be taken to that, and I am planning to do that in the months to come.

We have got a brand new road in my constituency and it is supposed to have a vital bus link on it between Hengrove and Long Ashton, but the West of England metro mayor refuses to use his devolved powers to help make it happen. What is the purpose of devolving powers to a metro mayor if he will not use them?

The proposal to put a weight limit on the North bridge in Oundle is causing great concern, not only to residents but to businesses and bus service users. I have written to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about the matter. Will he undertake to see what can be done to make sure that the repairs are carried out as soon as possible?

As my hon. Friend will know, the North bridge in Oundle falls under the responsibility of Northamptonshire County Council as the highway authority. Since 2015-16, the Department has provided the council with £72 million of local highways maintenance finance, including £12 million this year. That can be used to help to strengthen bridges. It is entirely for the council to determine how that funding is deployed.

North Lincolnshire’s roads and pavements are pitted with potholes. Given what the Minister has just said, should North Lincolnshire Council not be doing a better job of tackling this issue?

Of course, these are matters for local authorities in each case, as the hon. Gentleman rightly points out. Our job is to take a more strategic view of the overall picture, which is what I have said we are planning to do.