Opposition Liberal Democrats at County Hall have slammed a decision by the Conservative run council to spend an extra £11m that the council has been given for road and footway repairs on new roads instead.
A few months ago, the government provided increased funding for highways maintenance, increasing the funding for this year for England from £1bn to £1.5bn. Hertfordshire County Council's additional funding is just over £11m.
The council has decided that instead of using it for what it was intended, it will spend it covering the cost of new roads at the A120,A602 and at Essex Road Bridge in East Herts. This is despite the fact that the council has over £300m in contingency funds for the major schemes.
This information became public during a question at Full Council last week when the Executive Member for Highways, Phil Bibby, admitted that the money was not planned to be used for what the government had allocated it for.
Liberal Democrat opposition Leader, Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, who found out the facts, hit out, " Frankly this is a disgrace and an insult to
both the government and residents. The government rightly understood that more needed to be spent on highway and footway maintenance and to not do so from what is claimed to be a flagship Conservative authority is an insult to ministers and to all of us who have lobbied for this extra cash."
"This money should be used to improve uneven and unsafe footways, cut back overgrown paths and cycleways and improve maintenance on our side streets. This was the government's intention. The County council has millions in reserves that it could use to support any extra road building costs - instead, it is saving it for its election year. By all means, ask the government to meet increased costs but we must put our residents first and not new roads. As usual, the Conservatives have got their priorities wrong in the green agenda."