I'm a Burnley councillor and all people say to me is 'fill in the potholes'

Potholes are the number one priority for Lancashire residents, according to county councillors.
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That is the message elected representatives say they are getting whenever they engage with locals.

The revelation came at a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s scrutiny management board during a discussion about how the authority should spend the cash being sent its way from the savings made by scrapping the northern leg of the HS2 railway line to Manchester.

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Board member Scott Cunliffe, the Green Party county councillor for the Burnley Central West division, said he had been canvassing opinion in his area regarding the public’s preferences for how the money should be used.

County Cllr Scott Cunliffe says the people's priority is obvious - potholesCounty Cllr Scott Cunliffe says the people's priority is obvious - potholes
County Cllr Scott Cunliffe says the people's priority is obvious - potholes

“‘Fill in the potholes, fill in the potholes’ - that’s all people say. So if we want to listen to residents and respond to [them], we’re not going to spend it on sustainable transport, which might be my preference - we’re going to go for the potholes first,” County Cllr Cunliffe said.

Lead member for highways and active transport Scott Smith said the sentiment was universally shared.

“It is the top priority [at] every door you knock on, every resident you speak to - that they want the potholes filled and the roads resurfaced,” the Conservative politician explained.

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Lancashire is in line for two tranches of redirected HS2 cash over the next decade as part of the government’s ‘Network North’ programme – one of which is the £244.5m boost the county council has been promised to its highways maintenance budget between 2023 and 2033.

However, Burnley will not see any of the 22 surface improvement projects to be funded by the £7.2m received so far. County Cllr Cunliffe said a resident had already contacted him to express their dismay at the town’s omission from the list.

Pendle and Ribble Valley will get one scheme each – on Bent Lane and Inglewhite Road, respectively.

Separately, Lancashire as a whole is due to receive the largest share across the North and Midlands from the government’s Local Transport Fund (LTF) - which also comes under the Network North umbrella. The county council has been told it will be given £494m between next year and 2032, with Blackpool getting £120.8m and Blackburn £116.9m.

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The LTF is intended for major highways and transport schemes such as building new roads or upgrading railway stations. However, the scrutiny management board heard that the complexity of the different funding arrangements was not cutting through with residents, many of whom would happily see it all spent on resurfacing the roads.

County Cllr Cunliffe asked for more clarity over how Lancashire’s allocations were going to be spent in time for the next board meeting in June, adding: “This is going to change the dynamic for highways, especially, and transport.”

However, County Cllr Smith said he could not guarantee that government guidance on suitable LTF projects would be available within that timeframe.

Just 24 hours after the meeting, transport minister Huw Merriman told a Commons debate on the possibility of reopening Midge Hall station near Leyland that advice on LTF funding would be issued “shortly”.

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