Extra funding for road repairs may end up being gobbled up by inflation, Hampshire council chiefs have warned

By David George   |   Local Democracy Reporter for Hampshire   |
Friday 28th January 2022 10:53 am
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The county council has also noted a rise in the number of potholes and other ‘road defects’ being reported by residents (Nick Howard )

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EXTRA roads cash will only slow decline of Hampshire’s highways, not reverse it, county council chiefs have warned.

Hampshire County Council has received £7 million from the government to tackle road maintenance.

But as inflation in the construction sector continues to send prices soaring, there are concerns that this money make much of a difference.

Stuart Jarvis, the county council’s director of economy, transport and environment, said: “Our road network has been in decline for more than 10 years now, beginning with austerity measures that have accelerated that decline.

“We do have this additional £7m to try and address that decline and we’ll be bringing forward a further network recovery plan.

“But inflation in the construction industry is at around 15 per cent and that’s really bad news for us – it’s certainly going to erode that extra money we’ve been given.”

Mr Jarvis added that schemes which had funding approved two years ago may have to cut back on the work being done.

Last month, deputy council leader, Cllr Rob Humby, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he expected schemes like the Botley Bypass and Welborne Junction to increase in price.

At a select committee meeting yesterday (Thursday), Liberal Democrat spokesman for economy, transport and environment, Cllr Martin Tod, said: “I wonder if that £7m will reverse the decline of our roads, or simply slow it down.”

Mr Jarvis responded: “It depends on what happens to construction inflation over the next few years.

‘If it goes back to more normal levels that will obviously be helpful, but it’s unlikely that we see any sort of uptick that would take is back to where we were in 2010.”

The county council has also noted a rise in the number of potholes and other ‘road defects’ being reported by residents.

The director added that additional funding would also not guarantee anything specific, but that potholes could be dealt with “quicker”.

Select committee chairman, Cllr Stephen Philpott, said: “We have had to oversee a decline in our road network, which is unfortunate.

“That decline has come from a continued reduction in government funding – something that had affected all of the county council’s services.”

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