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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

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Tynedale: Summer deadline to get rid of 12,000 potholes

A SURPRISE £600,000 funding package to clear a backlog of over 12,000 potholes across Northumberland by June has been agreed by the county council.

The move was rubber stamped at a full council meeting on Tuesday as part of Labour’s first budget as an administration in County Hall, which sets out eye-watering cuts worth £32.5m to be delivered over the next year.

A review, which could see buildings and sites like County Hall in Morpeth sold to make sure the authority remains on course to deliver services across England’s sixth largest county, is also under way.

But the bold plan to tackle the damage affecting the county’s 3,186 miles of road and 1,875 miles of footpaths was included after it was identified as one of residents’ top priorities.

Council leader Coun. Grant Davey said: “Our first budget is set against the backdrop of a severe cuts package by a ConDem Government that seems to be determined to hammer Northumberland.

“While we’ve got to find £32.5m worth of cuts, we think that we can save money by tackling the scandalous ‘pothole black hole’ left by the previous Lib Dem administration.

“By dealing with over 12,000 pot holes by June, we think we can reduce the liability of the council for damages caused by the holes.”

Cabinet member with the highways portfolio, Coun. Ian Swithenbank said: “We’ll be adding capacity to our highways operation to enable our staff to tackle the backlog and get on top of a problem that our residents tell us is important to them.

“We think the investment will save money in the long run and we’ll be able to reduce our liability on potential insurance pay-outs.”

The council has already pledged to respond to other issues raised in the public consultation and is currently reviewing the funding options around post-16 transport and youth services.