Doncaster potholes: Labour mayor and Tory MP row over who's to blame

Credit: PA

The Mayor of Doncaster and a local Conservative MP are locked in a bitter public row over who is to blame for the lack of repairs to potholes in the city.

Labour mayor Ros Jones reacted angrily after Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher accused the Labour-run city council and the party's South Yorkshire metro mayor Oliver Coppard of inaction.

In a post on X, Mr Fletcher called on the council to "put back in the condition they should be."

He wrote: “Delay, delay and more delay. It’s something we are all used to from [Mayor Ros Jones and South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard] but why should we accept it?

“Potholes are meant to be dealt with by the council. Government provide both Doncaster Council and South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority with a lot of money to do their job and provide a good transport network."

In response Ms Jones said real-terms funding for road maintenance had halved since 2006.

She said: "Doncaster and councils across the country need more funding for highway maintenance. Potholes are a blight on our roads and increase costs for motorists.

"As a council we want to be able to keep all our highways in good condition, however 14 years of reductions in funding from central government to local road repair budgets have left many local authorities facing their biggest ever annual pothole repair backlog."

Who's really to blame?

In a letter published by Mr Fletcher on X, transport secretary Mark Harper details £8.3bn to be given to councils across the country for road repairs.

The money will be delivered over a period of 11 years, with councils in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber to receive a share of £3.3bn.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "Local highways authorities are responsible for maintaining their road networks, but we are supporting them with the biggest ever increase in funding for local road improvements thanks to £8.3bn of reallocated HS2 funding - enough to resurface the equivalent of over 5,000 miles of roads across the country.

"On top of a separate £570m pot of transport funding provided to South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority until 2027, they are also receiving an additional £133m specifically for roads resurfacing over the next ten years thanks to reallocated HS2 funding, with around £2m of that already paid and a further £2m to follow later this year."

However, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Doncaster faces a funding gap of around £150m for highways repairs.

The council was awarded around £5m from central government specifically for these works in 2023/4.

This is the same figure that was awarded in 2010, meaning that real-terms funding has halved since 2006.

Meanwhile, an annual survey conducted by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) found that there are around two million potholes requiring repair across the country, the highest figure in eight years.

While highway maintenance budgets increased by an average 2.3% during this financial year, inflation has led to a loss in real-terms funding for these repairs.

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