Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Improving Rural Roads... With Limited Cash

With public spending under pressure and purse strings needing to get tighter it will become even more important that public money and time is well spent. A few days ago I met all the Conservative candidates in Hertfordshire for a briefing in the run up to the Council elections... we discussed everything from schools to hospitals to the Lisbon treaty but the debate on potholes was the one attracting most public comment. Rural roads in East Anglia are not only a major issue but often a tragic one.

I went to check the signs on my local road. I have campaigned for improvements on the A1307 for many years. Over a year ago I wrote about the frustrations of seeing hours of public sector time spent on the road but no action. Last year 5 people died in on a ten mile stretch of this small road. Since then after much lobbying a safety campaign started and the signs pictured were erected. Whilst the road still needs substantial improvements it is going to become even more difficult to find that sort of money. However, these signs and the safety campaign have not cost vast amounts of money - but may have saved some lives, only time will tell. But we are all hopeful that the silence of ambulance sirens over recent months will continue.

As I talk to people around the East of England I continually hear frustrations about local roads. When I mention Europe people ask why other countries appear to have mile after mile of new tarmac provided by the EU but no investment happens here? Over recent years the UK has not benefited from the same EU investment in roads and railways as other countries. Some of this is simply due to the Department for Transport in the UK failing to prioritise bids for these funds. It seems to me that in the tough economic times ahead we must get our fair share of every penny available - and make sure it is well spent.

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