Thursday, 21 January 2010

The politics of potholes

We are all seeing it, the huge levels of damage to tired road surfaces caused by the recent winter weather and the consequent burden on the local authority budgets. However a simple question springs to my mind and that is should the government be picking up some of the tab?

Why you may ask and here is the rub.

When Lord Adonis intervened and required Councils to stop gritting on all but the highest priority routes he did so under the guise that this was in effect a national emergency scenario. The consequence is that councils across the land cut back on their secondary gritting regime.

It is on these roads I focus my attention. Under normal conditions these would have been treated and damage significantly reduced as a result.

Now if we accept the argument that this was a national event it places it on a par with Foot and Mouth in 2001 or the 2007 Flooding. In both of these events the Belwin Formula was applied allowing Councils to claim back expenditure related to the incident.

By their intervention in a council duty there is a strong case to put that the damage to the network on the roads published as being gritted but which were not in order to protect the truck road network is a direct result of government action in a civil contingencies event. As such the Bellwin Formula should apply and we should be placing pressure on the government to ensure the consequences of their actions are not once again borne by the council tax budget