Headlines: January 12th, 2010

A county council is pressing the Government for more money to meet the costs of repairing roads damaged by the severe weather. The move by Northamptonshire Council came as the Government warned that further steps will have to be taken to conserve salt supplies because of the ongoing wintry condidions and with the central committee controlling supplies set to meet again this morning.

Northamptonshire Council expects inspections of its road network to show widespread damage when the snow and ice has cleared. It said heavy rain as well as the frost and snow all made surfaces more brittle and accelerated the deterioration of roads.

It will lobby Government at regional and national level for extra money for emergency repairs and for long-term planned maintenance and improvement. Northamptonshire made a similar approach after the severe weather last February but received no money and had to use five million pounds from reserves for emergency roadworks. Councillor Heather Smith, the cabinet member for environment, growth and transport, said:”Putting this right will cost a significant amount of money and we simply cannot afford to keep using the money from our reserves to fund this.”

Meanwhile the Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, said more would need to be done to conserve salt supplies in the light of the expected continuation of the cold weather this week. The Highways Agency and local authorities had already agreed to cut salt use by “at least 25 per cent” but the committee deciding on how salt use should be prioritised would meet again tomorrow morning.