GCC budget 2014/15 - Shire Hall rejects plan to spend £1 million more on damaged roads

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Stroud News and Journal: Photograph of the Author by , SNJ reporter for Stonehouse and Chalford. Twitter @ChrisWarneSNJ

A PROPOSAL to take £1 million from Gloucestershire County Council’s reserves and spend it on road maintenance was rejected by a majority of the authority’s members during budget talks.

An amendment to the county’s spending plans put forward by the Lib Dem group called for the funds to be taken from the council’s transformation reserve and used to fix potholes and repair roads damaged by the recent bad weather.

But the move was opposed by Conservative councillors and several Labour members, who accused the Lib Dems of headline grabbing.

Speaking in support of the amendment, former Lib Dem leader Jeremy Hilton, said: “This money is supposed to be for a rainy day and we have had a lot of rainy days.”

Cllr Hilton’s appeal was backed up by Stroud’s Green Party county councillor Sarah Lunnon, who insisted more needed to be done about the ‘appalling state’ of the roads to make them safer for cyclists.

However, GCC’s Conservative leader Mark Hawthorne said the authority was already putting a ‘huge amount of investment into the county’s roads’.

“Since May this administration has put £5.9 million into its roads first programme and 131 miles of roads have been resurfaced this year,” his Tory colleague Vernon Smith, the cabinet member for highways, added.

Cllr Smith also revealed that GCC would be applying to the Department of Transport for £15 million worth of additional funding to help upgrade Gloucestershire’s road network.

Although the Lib Dems failed to win support for their roads proposal, they did have some success in the budget negotiations, securing several amendments to the council’s spending plans, including a cut in the cost of residents’ parking permits from £80 to £50.

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