Cumbria's main roads are improving, and fewer need maintenance, according to the Department for Transport... but its rural roads are in greater need of repair than before.
A survey of road conditions, carried out as part of a national monitoring programme, found:
- Principal A class roads in need of repair has fallen from 6% to 5% between 2011/12 and 2013/14
- Non-principal roads (B and C class roads) in need of maintenance has also gone down, from 17% to 14%, over the same period
- Sight rise for unclassified, minor rural roads needing maintenance, which rose from 15% to 17%
“Maintaining and improving our roads is one of the council’s key priorities and the DfT figures show there has been a small, but steady improvement in the condition of our busiest roads over recent years.
"This reflects the improvements we’ve made to the highways maintenance service in recent years, including investment in plant and machinery and co-ordinating our work more consistently.
"I appreciate that our roads are far from perfect, particularly at this time of year before the spring and summer maintenance programme has stepped up.
But our highways teams are working hard to make the most of increasingly limited resources and these figures show they are making a real difference.”
The council estimates that around £250 million more is required to bring the county’s highways network up to a good or reasonable standard.
Demolition work has begun on the site of the new Cumbria County Council building.
The work on Bothchergate started at the weekend, with the new offices expected to open in spring next year.
Cumbria County Council is starting work on a major £2.3m road improvements scheme in Penrith.
It hopes the project will improve access to the Gilwilly Industrial Estate and Eden Business Park, and that this will open up the town for future business growth and potential new jobs.
The first phase will involve putting in an extra lane on the A592 Ullswater Road roundabout for southbound traffic and a revised layout for traffic exiting southbound from Haweswater Road.
Penrith library has teamed up with a local business owner to offer an innovative temporary solution to a problem with its lift.
Disabled library users or families with pushchairs faced access problems as the lift to the first-floor library is temporarily out of action. So the Soup Shop opposite the library entrance in the Devonshire Arcade has steamed in with a solution, offering a temporary service from its café.
A selection of books will be offered in the Soup Shop from today (Friday 27 February) and library staff will be on hand to register new customers or fetch items on request. Penrith library will be open for business as usual for people using the stairs.
“This is a great example of how we work with people in the local area to find solutions. We are very grateful to Soup Shop owner Paul Forsyth for his help in ensuring everyone can still have access to the books they love and need. I hope people take the opportunity to enjoy a snack while they peruse our products too.”
Cumbria County Council is urging the Government to address "years of underfunding" in Cumbria’s rail network.
Tenders will go out later this month to run the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises from February 2016.
The council's calls for an improved service in the new franchises include:
- greater frequency and capacity of passenger services on the Cumbrian Coast Line
- an increase in the number of direct services to Manchester International Airport from Barrow, Windermere and from the Anglo-Scottish route
- Increase in the frequency of trains on the Tyne Valley Line between Carlisle and Newcastle so that there is a half hourly service
The council has criticised the current franchise, saying that it is 'not fit for purpose' in some areas.
“We are on the cusp of seeing what exactly we’re going to get in our rail services for the next decade. We have been lobbying hard for improvements and telling Government we need to see ambition, incentives for growth and flexibility in those tenders.
"The last franchises awarded in 2004, locked us into a poor quality service which did nothing to encourage investment and could not cope with the growth in passenger numbers. The result is a rail network which in some areas is not fit for purpose compared with other networks across the country,”
A draft budget that would save more than £30 million will go before councillors today.
Cumbria County Council's Cabinet is being asked to consider approving £326 million worth of cuts to its budget for 2015/2016.
The Cabinet's recommendations will be presented for final approval to the Full Council on 19 February.
The council is encouraging Cumbrians to download a free ‘Fill That Hole" app to report potholes.
The app allows users to take a picture of the pothole and report it from the kerbside.
The app then sends that data to Cumbria County Council’s highways teams.
“Whilst our highways hotline is a successful way of reporting potholes, we know that many people use their smartphones more and more these days and we are embracing this culture shift by endorsing ‘Fill That Hole’.
“This app has helped us to identify more potholes that need attention. We are hard at work tackling potholes every day and I encourage people to download the app and report any potholes they see. After all, if we don’t know about them we can’t fill them!”
The number of payouts for damage caused by potholes went up last year in Cumbria.
272 claims were made against the Cumbria County Council for damage caused to their vehicles, a rise of 22 from the following year.
Only 15% of claims were successful, with the council paying out £16,000 in compensation.
Cumbria County Council has welcomed news plain cigarette packaging could come into force in England by 2016.
The government has announced MPs will vote on the plan before the General Election in May.
If it passes, the law will mean packets need to be dull brown outside, and white inside.
The legislation won't apply to Scotland - unless Holyrood introduces similar rules.
Cumbria County Council has organised two more drop-in sessions for people to discuss its plans for £2 million of investment on roads in the Lakes.
People can give their views and ideas at events being held on:
- Tuesday 20 January, 11am-2pm, at Windermere Room at Brockhole, Lake District Visitor Centre.
- Wednesday 21 January, 12noon-3pm, at Bowness Bay Information Centre, Glebe Road, Bowness on Windermere.
The council says the plans will affect four "key locations": Glebe Road, Bowness-on-Windermere, and the A591 at Brockhole, Low Wood Bay, and Town End, Grasmere.
The council is keen to hear public feedback.
“The response from local communities to the first round of community drop-in events was encouraging, with many sharing their views.
"We want to hear what people have to say about these locations, to help us design effective improvements."
Anyone unable to attend the latest drop-ins can view the plans on the council's website, and should email email@example.com by the 31st of January.