London's cyclists face winter of discontent as road repair budgets slashed
London councils are warning that conditions on the roads are set to worsen this coming winter after the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson, slashed the funding provided to boroughs for small-scale works, which includes road maintenance such as repairing potholes, by 22%.
The funding provided by Transport for London (TfL) to local authorities, which also covers other minor works including local cycling and walking schemes, is set to fall from £169 million during 2009/10 to £132 million in 2013/14, reports the Evening Standard.
That means that local councils will either have to meet the shortfall by making cuts elsewhere in their budgets, or let roads, many of which haven’t had the damage caused by last year’s severe winter dealt with, fall further into disrepair, with Westminster and Camden both admitting to the newspaper that their budgets would need to be cut.
Chris Bond, environment spokesman at Enfield council, which will see its £2.8 million funding fall by £800,000, told the Evening Standard: “It means we will have to find more money from our own stretched resources. Otherwise there will be more potholes and cracked pavements making our streets unsafe for youngsters and older people especially. It's frankly scandalous.”
Professor Stephen Glaister, who is Professor of Transport and Infrastructure in the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College London, warned: “The road condition is very poor in many parts of London and the public hate the potholes, and I'm afraid it's not good news from that point of view.”
London Assembly Member Darren Johnson of the Green Party, maintained that the budget cuts needn’t have happened, saying: “Local authorities are being squeezed by a combination of cuts imposed directly by central government and cuts passed on by the Mayor. Some of this pain could have been avoided if Boris had kept the estimated £55 million generated by the western extension of the congestion charge.”
TfL confirmed to the Evening Standard that money available for Local Implementation Plans (LIPs) would be reduced and that there would also be cuts in the budget allocated to maintenance of and investment in main TfL routes. It added that it would attempt to ensure that roads were kept in good repair by improving operational efficiency.
A TfL spokesman told the newspaper: “The funding we provide to London's boroughs through the Local Implementation Plan process will be reduced in line with the General Grant TfL receives from central Government.
“Funding allocations for programmes such as road maintenance, bridge strengthening, Major Schemes and the borough discretionary fund have been safeguarded.
"But clearly there will be some areas funded through the LIPs where schemes will need to be prioritised and to support this TfL has provided greater flexibility and local accountability in the use of formula funding provided to London boroughs.”