Roads repair cash spread too thinly at £1,000 a kilometre

Two regional list candidates in May’s Scottish Parliament elections have lambasted the SNP Government for a long-term campaign of starving Highland Council of cash, leaving a huge hole in the budget for road repairs and maintenance.

Although millions are being ploughed into road repairs by Highland Council, it equates to just £1,000 a kilometre, according to figures discovered by Labour’s Highlands and Islands regional list candidates Rhoda Grant.

Mrs Grant, who is also standing for Labour in Inverness and Nairn, has been lobbied by residents from across the Highlands very concerned about the state of the roads, with many posting photos of crumbling edges and huge potholes, especially on well-used stretches such as the NC500.

In a recent report by the local authority it was said that the current capital budget of £7.2million for 2021/22 sounded “a substantial investment” but the number of roads meant it equated to “just over £1,000 per km to cover maintenance and renewal of all the assets”.

The council admitted that the pandemic postponed or cancelled some planned maintenance work.

Mrs Grant commented: “Put in context that £1,000 sounds a paltry amount and the blame lies squarely at the door of the SNP Government which has starved our councils of money for too long.

“I wonder how many potholes you could find in an average one kilometre stretch of any road in the Highlands just now and I doubt £1,000 could mend it when you add the cost of materials, workers, equipment and travel.”

John Erskine, also standing for Labour in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “The council’s area committee will soon be meeting to divvy up a good proportion of the cash locally – what a job they will have!

“We know the SNP Government have turbo charged austerity in Scotland affecting council services across our region. The SNP needs to be brought to account for shameful budget cuts.”