The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget this week that North Yorkshire County Council is to receive £24m of Government funding towards a £32m package for the maintenance of the county’s rural road network.
The funding follows an innovative bid by the County Council to the Government’s Local Growth Fund. It will support maintenance on rural roads feeding into the centres of growth around Catterick Garrison, Malton and Norton, Scarborough, Selby, Skipton, Harrogate, Northallerton and Thirsk.
The money will be provided over five years, from 2016/17 to 2020/21, with £5m available in each of the first four years and £4m in the final year. The Government funding will be supplemented by an additional £8m from the County Council’s reserves, demonstrating the high priority the council gives to highway maintenance. This builds on more than £14m of additional funding the council has invested in road maintenance over the last two years.
The County Council has previously prioritised maintenance of busier A and B roads between market towns and major centres, which are now generally in a good condition. More recently it shifted its focus to rural roads, where good connections between our towns and villages are also vital for the county’s continued economic vitality.
North Yorkshire has a much higher percentage of rural roads than most areas. They account for almost 75 per cent of the county’s road network, compared to 29 per cent in a typical local authority.
Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “Maintenance schemes on our rural roads that connect to the main road network and growth centres is vital to sustain and encourage economic growth among rural businesses and ensure that the benefits of economic growth in our towns are also felt in the villages and countryside that surround them.”
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, added: “This is very good news. Spending on the repair of our roads is one of the most important investments we can make for the economic wellbeing of North Yorkshire and the benefit of everyone who lives and works in the county.”
Over the five years of the package this additional funding will allow the County Council to carry out more than 600 additional maintenance schemes covering nearly 500km of the county’s most frequently used minor rural roads.