‘Too early’ for money for road

It’s too early to say if any of £262m worth of new funding will be used to finance any of the Spalding Western Relief Road, county council officials have said.

Lincolnshire County Council is to be given the cash previously allocated to the cancelled HS2 railway line over seven years.
The first stage of five of the Spalding Western Relief Road is currently being built.
But work has yet to start on any other and three of the five stages aren’t even funded.
Many in South Holland are sceptical as to whether the road, which is intended to reduce traffic around the increasingly busy railway crossings in Spalding, will ever be built.
When asked if the £37.5m a year might go on the project, Coun Richard Davies said in a statement: “We cautiously welcome this news about the reallocation of HS2 funding, as this is something we’ve been calling for from central government for years.
“It’s still too early to say what this funding will be used for.
“However, it’s really refreshing to see Lincolnshire not getting overlooked, and we very much look forward to understanding more about this funding, including whether it is actually additional funding and also whether the funding will be guaranteed following the next general election.
“From there, we’ll look forward to having our local MPs on side so we can make the most of what’s being offered.
“This seven-year commitment for about £37m a year extra could mean a 30 to 40 per cent increase in our maintenance budget over that time.
“This would allow us to build on the work we’re currently doing, including filling 1,000 potholes a week.
“With an extra £37m a year, we can clear a lot of our pothole backlog, improve a lot of roads and junctions, and enhance public transport in the county.”
The Spalding Western Relief Road was estimated to cost £108m to be completed with the section currently being built the most costly at £48m.
Housing is intended to be built with the county council looking at developers to pay for it.
The £37.5m per year for Lincolnshire is £2.5m a year shy of Lincolnshire County Council’s £400m target to clear the current highways repairs backlog and improve all roads to mint condition.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunkak said in an interview with BBC Radio Lincolnshire this change of plan from HS2 to localised transport funding is “the right priority” for the country.
“This is money that has resulted because of the decision I took on HS2 last year,” he said. “I’ve taken every penny of those billions that would have been spent on HS2 in the coming years, and reinvested that in the North and Midlands on transport.
“That is what people are much more reliant on. It represents an almost unprecedented increase in the amount of money available for local areas to spend on the transport they care about — whether it’s local rail, road or bus services.”
But the Prime Minister wouldn’t answer whether this funding is basically reinstated money that was taken from the county council when its highways budget was slashed by 25 per cent in recent years.
Yet Mr Sunak mentioned an extra £600m of wider funding for councils across the country, saying this translates to around 8.5 per cent more money than last year for local authorities to spend on services.
Despite this welcome boost to Lincolnshire’s highways pot, county councillors have still approved a five per cent council tax hike for residents for 2024/25 at its meeting last week — equating to an extra £1.44 per week for a Band D property.

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