203Durham County Council is increasing its investment in the county’s road network, despite reductions in the funding it receives, councillors will hear.

A report going to Durham County Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday (6 April) outlines how increased investment in highways is securing the long-term future of the network, which includes 2,348 miles of road, 486 road bridges and 82,144 street lighting columns.

The report explains how the council’s Transport Asset Management Plan (TAMP) is key to understanding the highway network and in setting out how funding should be prioritised.

It describes how the council has increased its investment in programmed capital maintenance from £0.7m in 2010/11 to £5.4m in 2014/15 with commitment to rise to £7.6m in 2017/18.

As well as the continued investment, the council has also increased its revenue budget for winter maintenance by £1.5m each year since 2014.

And £1.5m has been spent on new salt barns at Wolsingham and Hackworth, £1m has gone into the refurbishment of the Tindale and Wolsingham depots and funding from reserves has been used to repair exceptional flood damage.

The council has also led on establishing and developing an alliance of all 12 north east authorities, which involves resource sharing, collaborative procurement and knowledge sharing.

This has helped Durham become one of the first councils in the UK to be awarded a prestigious British standard in collaborative business relationships, which will help it secure maximum funding from Government.

What’s more, Durham is one of only two of the 119 participating highway authorities in England to achieve the top efficiency rating, which will also help secure the most amount of funding available from the Department for Transport (DfT).

The report also describes the overall maintenance backlog – the value of maintenance required to bring the entire network up to a good standard – the council is faced with, which is more than £180m.

This figure is broadly in line with other local authorities, taking into account the size of the network.

Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said: “Despite unprecedented reductions in government funding since 2010, we have protected and continued to prioritise investment in maintaining our roads.

“We are committed to investing in the county’s highways network and keeping it up to standard and we are continuing to pursue other opportunities to increase our funding further still.

“Like most highway authorities we have a backlog and face considerable challenges to maintain the condition of the network.

“However, the latest TAMP demonstrates that the backlog is stable and work is progressing well in helping maximise the condition of our roads with the budget we have.

“We have also been successful in attracting considerable funding from the DfT and this plan, together with our maximum efficiency rating, will ensure we are well placed to maximise further funding from the DfT going forward.”

Cabinet will be asked to approve the annual TAMP update report and note the substantial investment in programmed capital maintenance and the ongoing work to maximise funding going forward.

Cabinet will meet next Wednesday (April 6) at 10am at the council offices in Spennymoor.