North Yorkshire County Council have gone cap in hand to government, asking for £5m towards the cost of averting a crisis on the roads of North Yorkshire.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has been urged to intervene to help reverse a £322m backlog of maintenance on North Yorkshire’s highways before the global spotlight falls on the region with the staging of the Tour de France’s Grand Départ this summer.
In a letter to Mr McLoughlin, North Yorkshire County Council’s leader, John Weighell says the issue “is rapidly becoming a crisis”.
He added: “Insufficient funding for highway maintenance is not a problem unique to North Yorkshire, but I believe we feel the pain particularly badly.
“North Yorkshire is the biggest local authority in England by area and has the third largest road network. The topography of North Yorkshire means we are vulnerable to extreme weather.
“Our dispersed population and our rural economy make our minor roads particularly important.”
A council analysis suggests that even if the backlog of repairs was removed North Yorkshire would need £60m a year to keep on top of road maintenance - more than double what it currently receives.
Coun Weighell’s letter continues: “Of course we are not just throwing money at the problem. New and improved systems allow better management and ensure we get the best possible value for money.”
The county’s roads will host the first two stages of this year’s Tour de France. The race will set off from Leeds to Harrogate via the Yorkshire Dales and Ripon on July 5, before passing through Knaresborough and Starbeck the following day.
Coun Weighell said repairs to prepare the Tour route had not significantly added to the county’s bill but had seen spending shifted away from other roads.
“There is an impact from the Tour de France on the budget of North Yorkshire but that is about more than the roads and of course we have duty to look after the economic well-being of the county which the Tour de France will contribute to for years to come.”
The Transport Secretary is being asked to match an additional £5m that the county council is planning to put into road maintenance in the coming year.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The Secretary of State has received the letter from the leader of North Yorkshire County Council and will consider the points raised.