Long road to recovery

A DRIVE to make more county roads pothole-proof has saved taxpayers £4 million in one year – but the county council has warned Surrey still faces a highways funding gap of around £60m from Whitehall.

One year into a push to upgrade 300 miles of road with 10-year repair guarantees, the council has saved £4.4m through smarter contracts and recycling. Although the saving could overhaul 16 miles of road for free – half the width of Surrey – Department for Transport funding for the county is still £60m short of the £132m needed to maintain Surrey roads for the next five years.

Surrey’s five-year Operation Horizon, set up to tackle the root cause of potholes with fewer repairs, is several months ahead of schedule and has overhauled 81 miles in its first year – enough to stretch from London to Southampton. Major schemes completed so far include resurfacing Reigate town centre and overhauling stretches up to four miles long through Godalming, Oxted and Guildford.

Last winter’s flooding left the council with a £23m additional roads bill, but mandarins have only provided the authority with £9.2m to cover this. These £23m repairs included a two-month blitz on around 17,000 potholes and starting major work on over 30 damaged bridges.

Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Flooding Recovery, John Furey, said: “While this excellent saving is another example of how hard we work to give our taxpayers better roads and better value, we still have around a £60m funding gap from the Department for Transport.

“This leaves us with huge financial pressures when we are already stretched by increasing school places and elderly care costs.”

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