Mon, 05 Nov 2018
WEST Berkshire Council has defended the decision to spend £130,000 on repaving areas of Newbury town centre.
The local authority said the works, which took around eight weeks to complete and involved several road closures, “represented good value for money”.
However, World’s End resident Peter Logie – who obtained the information via a Freedom of Information request – claimed the council was prioritising the town centre works over “poorly maintained rural roads and lanes”.
Mr Logie also accused the council of “treating rural communities as second-class citizens”.
In his email, Mr Logie said: “I request the council to advise why this expenditure was approved when there are rural lanes which are in significantly worse condition.
“Yet the condition of Market Place was deemed unacceptable and worthy of spending £130,000 of taxpayers money.”
In response, the council’s executive member for highways and transport, Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft), said: “Replacing areas of paving in our busy Newbury Market Place is necessary, as over time it is affected by heavy traffic and even excavations, for example those carried out by the utility companies.
“Spending £130,000 to keep our Market Place in good shape is a worthwhile investment and I am more than happy to defend this particular project as representing good value for money.”
Mrs Clifford confirmed that the six-figure sum had come from the council’s capital budget – which is made up of developer contributions, grants and loans.
She added: “Talking more broadly, keeping our roads in good condition is very important to us and I am pleased to say that we are on track to fulfil our manifesto pledge to resurface at least 145 miles of roads between 2015-19.
“This year we are again investing around £3.5m in our highway improvement programme, resurfacing 77 roads with a total length of approximately 27 miles.
“As it happens, two thirds of these are rural country lanes and one third a mix of A, B, C and estate roads, although you will understand that the precise proportion varies between years.