No extra money is likely to be made available for road repairs in Burnley, despite neighbouring Pendle receiving £1.2m. - prompting an angry response from the leader of Burnley Borough Council.
Coun. Mark Townsend, the Labour leader of Burnley Council, accused Pendle Tory members of Lancashire County Council of a "behind doors stitch-up" as it emerged that Pendle will receive £1.2m. of funding from County Hall for 18 separate road improvement programmes.
However, no such assurances have been made to Burnley to fix the scourge of potholes that have blighted the borough's roads in recent weeks.
He said: "This is obviously a behind closed doors stitch up by Tory councillors. The Cabinet papers are not even in the public domain yet so Burnley residents don't yet know of any proposed allocation and I fear the worst.
"The state of the roads is pathetic and Burnley needs at least the same funding and realistically more than Pendle if we are to get at least some of the roads to a satisfactory condition. This smells like a political deal has been done ahead of the local elections for Pendle Tories who fear losing their seats."
The Conservative administration now in charge at County Hall says the latest money comes on top of an additional £5m. in its Highways Budget this year, and an overall £10m. increase in Highways spending since taking control in May 2017.
County Coun. Joe Cooney, the leader of the Pendle Conservative group, was understandably delighted with the investment he had helped to secure for Pendle.
He said: “I have been working with the county council to try and secure more investment in Pendle’s roads and I’m pleased with the start that we have made.
“More than 1,300 defects in our roads have been fixed in less than a year and now we’re set to see over £1.2m. worth of funding to be spent in our borough.”
But Coun. Townsend said the news was a kick in the teeth for Burnley motorists, especially as a Labour proposal at a recent county council budget meeting to put an extra £1m. into the highways budget was defeated by the Conservatives.
He added: "I will be furious if it turns out secret deals have been done secret deals have been done by the Tories in Pendle, which results in some councils getting money that others do not.
"I held a surgery in Tesco recently and three quarters of the people who visited wanted to complain about the potholes in our roads, and it's not even a borough council issue. That shows how important this issue is to people in Burnley who are sick to death of having their cars damaged by the poor quality roads in the borough.
"They will be equally furious if it transpires that Burnley is to receive no extra special funding that is evidently going to other boroughs."
Coun. Townsend also criticised the county council's overall approach to road repairs and maintenance which he described as "firefighting" and said a strategic long-term approach was needed.