APPG Chairman, Sir Christopher Chope MP, welcomed Oxfordshire County Council representatives Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for the Environment (including Transport) and Paul Fermer, Assistant Director – Infrastructure Operations, to the last meeting of 2018.
Cllr Constance set out how the council has implemented a forward-thinking approach to investing in roads maintenance to improve conditions and save money in the long-term:
With a cut in the roads budget of 50 per cent since 2011, coupled with rising levels of residents’ dissatisfaction, Cllr Constance explained how the forecasted increase in Council Tax that will be generated as result of the planned development of 100,000 new homes has been brought forward to be spent on road improvements.
She and Paul explained that the council had determined that the managed decline approach to road maintenance imposed by budget constraints sat incongruously with Oxfordshire’s ambitious growth plans and aims to improve transport links within the county, such as the key A420 which services many SMEs working between Swindon and Oxford.
The council now plans to use £10 million each year from its ‘growth dividend’ derived from the increasing numbers of new homes now paying Council Tax. This will allow contractor Skanska to implement a planned preventative approach to local road maintenance which is reported to be twenty times less expensive per square metre than reactive work such as patching and mending potholes.