Questions over how £900k can fill Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells potholes

Questions over how £900k can fill Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells potholes

Kent Highways’ battle to treat a £500million backlog of potholes will be boosted by a share of a £50million Department for Transport grant.

Opposition councillors have committed to scrutinise Kent County Council [KCC] over how efficiently they choose to spend their portion, thought to be around £920,000.

There are currently 565 reported potholes in the county, including 54 in Tonbridge and 53 in Tunbridge Wells, and KCC will find out how much they are likely to have been awarded from the grant later this month.

However, Liberal Democrat Councillor Trudy Dean, the only opposition member on the authority for either Tunbridge Wells or Tonbridge & Malling bor- oughs, considers the grant ‘a drop in the ocean’.

The Malling Central representative committed to scrutinising how the money is spent.

She said: “It is not sensible government spending since it’s just turning a tap on and off without advance warning or sensible annual flow of adequate funding.

“KCC has a backlog of some £400million of road repairs as a result of spending at too low levels to maintain the roads properly over many decades.”

KCC said the figure was actually in excess of £500million. In October, the authority spent £5.2million on repairing poor road surfaces in a ‘pothole blitz’.

They operate a scheme where all potholes reported on their website are treated within 28 days, or two hours if it is considered an emergency.

The County Councillor for Hythe West, Martin Whybrow, the authority’s only Green Party member, raised a concern that the amount County Hall received was a fraction of the cuts they faced.

He said: “Local government budgets are cut and cut, but then, with big fanfare, central government drip-feed back small amounts.

“If local government was properly funded in the first place then proper maintenance of the road network would be possible, including enhancing the infrastructure to make it safer for cyclists, which would then reduce the need for constant patching.”

A KCC spokesman said: “We have not yet been informed about how much extra money will be allocated to Kent for fixing potholes.

“We understand the Department for Transport will inform councils of the distributions of funds sometime in January.

“However, any additional funding will obviously be welcome.”

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