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Leader of Chorley Council launches push to take control of roads off Lancashire County Council

Posted on - 1st May, 2024 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Adlington, Buckshaw Village, Chorley locations, Chorley News, Chorley town centre, Clayton Brook, Clayton-le-Woods, Croston, Euxton, Hoghton, Preston News, Rivington, Roads, South Ribble News, Transport, Whittle-le-Woods, Withnell & Brinscall
Chorley town hall
Chorley town hall

The leader of Chorley Council has launched a renewed push for the authority to take control of the district’s roads, which he has branded “an absolute shambles”.

Labour’s Alistair Bradley made the pitch to wrest responsibility for highways away from Lancashire County Council during a Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) election debate.

However, Chorley’s Conservative opposition group leader Alan Cullens – who is also a member of the ruling Tory party at County Hall – warned that the approach would mean that there was less money available to spend on the borough’s roads.

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County Hall currently looks after nearly all of the non-motorway routes in its patch, which excludes Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen.

Although not a district council responsibility, the issue of potholes also came up at the LDRS election debate for Preston, where the Labour city council leader Matthew Brown said the state of some roads was “embarrassing”.

But pressed on whether he wanted to take charge of Preston’s highways, Cllr Brown was emphatic:  “Not at all,” he responded.

For Cllr Bradley, however, it is a call he is making loud and clear – just over 12 months after he first did so, when it was greeted with silence from County Hall.

“I want the county council to give [Chorley Council] control of highways repairs and maintenance, because [the] potholes are an absolute shambles.

“Just drive from the M61 into the centre of Chorley on the bypass – and if you’re in an ambulance, going to the hospital, you will be shaken to bits before you get there. That is not acceptable in the 21st century in a first world country.

“Give us…control of our highways, we’ll do a better job of it,” Cllr Bradley said.

He also blasted the fact that Chorley has not seen “one penny” of the £7.2m in additional highway maintenance cash that has so far been allocated to Lancashire County Council from a government pot created with money saved from axing the northern leg of HS2.

As the LDRS revealed earlier this month, Preston and Burnley have also been left off that particular list.  However, all three are in line for resurfacing schemes as part of the £15.2m worth of already planned maintenance being carried out across Lancashire during 2024/25.

Those scheduled projects – of which Chorley and Preston have been earmarked for four each and Burnley one – are determined by County Hall’s long-term Transport Asset Management Plan (TAMP), which set out an overarching vision for how to improve Lancashire’s road network between 2014 and 2029.

The strategy has resulted in the county council being recognised by the government for a good use of resources and so entitles the authority to the maximum highways maintenance grant it could receive – £28.8m, before factoring in the HS2-related cash.  Cllr Cullens said Cllr Bradley’s idea for Chorley to take on responsibility for the roads in the borough would jeopardise that county-wide bonus.

“I’m partly going to agree with [him that] the idea of how [highway] funding actually works is very strange.  [The] money comes down from the government – and it is a very significant amount of money [for Lancashire – and they dictate by a formula which roads should actually be…resurfaced.

“If Chorley decided to go on their own on this one, that money will be lost – it has to be a collective way across the county. So it wouldn’t be more money coming into Chorley, it would actually be less money.

“I think you will see a lot of activity over the coming months that will improve [Chorley’s] roads,” Cllr Cullens added.

Not being on the list for the additional resurfacing schemes funded with the redirected HS2 money has no impact on a district’s eligibility for day-to-day pothole repairs when defects emerge during the course of the year – provided they meet the county council’s minimum depth for attention, which is 40mm.

The latest figures also show that the TAMP strategy has been having the desired effect on the region’s roads since it was introduced a decade ago, with the proportion of routes rated red and amber for poor condition decreasing across each main category between March 2014 and March 2023 – from 31 percent down to 19 percent of A-roads, from 48 percent to 25 percent of B-roads and from 55 percent to 32 percent of C-classified routes.

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