Council leaves over £130,000 for highway improvements unspent
Ted Peskett – Local Democracy Reporter
A Welsh council left hundreds and thousands of pounds for highway improvements unspent due to construction work and the need to keep roads clear for gritters.
At Vale of Glamorgan Council’ corporate performance and resources scrutiny committee on July 19, it was raised that there was £136,000 in underspend of the local authority’s £1.9m road repairs fund for the 2022/23 financial year.
Plaid Cymru councillor, Chris Franks, who pointed out the underspend said the revelation was disappointing “considering the amount of requests that there are for highway improvements”.
The scrutiny committee member was told at the meeting that he would have to wait on an answer as to how that money was left unspent.
Cllr Chris Franks said: “With roads across the Vale in a shocking state, it is astonishing that the Vale Council have underspent by so much in the past year.
“When money is put into a budget, we expect it to be spent in the year, especially when the Council so frequently tells us that it doesn’t have enough resources to fix the roads.
“7% of the total budget is nearly a month’s worth of work that hasn’t been done.
“That could have fixed another 700 potholes across the Vale – up to 700 streets could have been improved if the money had been spent as intended.
“The Vale should stop telling us that they have no money for services when they’re not spending what they have already allocated.”
The council completed £1.8m worth of highway improvements during the last financial year.
Explaining the underspend, a Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesperson said: “The money left over has been identified for specific work that could not be carried out during this period due construction activity along the routes or because they had to be kept clear for gritting vehicles.
“It has now transferred to the 2023/24 highway improvement budget, with work well underway.”
Residents in Dinas Powys expressed their frustration three months ago over the state of the roads in their town.
One cyclist called the conditions of some roads in the town “disgusting” whilst another person said they had seen a fellow resident filling in potholes themselves.
At the time, the council said highway inspectors undertake routine inspections at scheduled intervals through Dinas Powys, with works orders being raised where “actionable defects” are observed.
Once a pothole has been identified the contractor has an allocated time to complete the repair, dependant on the severity of the pothole.
A council spokesperson said: “Filling potholes is a big part of our work to maintain the Vale’s highway infrastructure.
“In March alone the Vale of Glamorgan Council filled 700 potholes across the county.
“Our highways inspectors undertake regular inspections of roads in the Vale but residents can also report any potholes they may see via our website or by calling Contact One Vale.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.