You can’t cut back on road maintenance

Councillors won't cut spending on roads maintenance
Councillors won't cut spending on roads maintenance

Councillors have blocked proposals from Fife Council’s transportation service to cut back on road maintenance to save money.

Projections suggest the transportation and environmental services will be £1.6m over budget this year.

In order to bring the budget back under control, head of service Bob McLellan sought the Council’s approval to reduce spending on structural and routine maintenance.

But that idea was kicked out after the executive committee supported a motion by Conervative councilor Dave Dempsey to block the move.

Cllr Dave Dempsey said: “The Council’s transportation service had identified a significant potential overspend for 2013-14.

“A fair part of this stemmed from a shortfall in car parking income, something that’s been going on for years.

“The service had been working to a scheme that expected car parking income to rise by more than inflation every year, which simply didn’t match reality.

“Consequently, they had to shuffle money from other areas to make good the gap.

“That link has now been broken but it left an in-year shortfall.”

Councillors were told £704,000 of that shortfall could be recovered by reducing road maintenance.

This would have meant postponing routine work such as drainage system maintenance works, bollard replacements and improvements to street lighting.

And structural work such as footpath improvements, resurfacing roads and improving safety and boundary fences would also have been put on hold.

Dr McLellan acknowledged this would have a negative effect on road condition, but also told the committee maintenance had already been “slowed”.

However, Cllr Dempsey argued this was the wrong approach.

“The roads are a mess and the funds to fix them are insufficient to start with” he said.

“The Conservative group proposed the £704,000 should come from the Council’s reserves and we are pleased this was unanimously approved.

“It’s a good day for Fife’s roads.”

As part of the shortfall was due to a drop in the expected level of income from car parking charges, the possibility of charges being introduced at park and ride facilities was also raised.

However, Council leader Alex Rowley insisted there were no proposals to bring forward parking charges of any kind.