CALLS have been made for more money to be invested in roads in Wrexham and Flintshire amid claims £100m is required to address a backlog of repairs.
The plea has been made after the Welsh Government announced a freeze on new road building projects as part of a review focused on reducing carbon emissions.
Newly-elected North Wales Senedd Member Carolyn Thomas said the funding earmarked for projects such as the controversial “red route” scheme in Flintshire should instead be used to fix the existing road network.
Politicians in both counties have previously highlighted the deteriorating state of local roads, as well as raising complaints over the number of potholes.
Although transport is a devolved matter in Wales, the Labour MS, who recently stepped back from her role as deputy leader of Flintshire Council, blamed UK Government austerity measures for the lack of investment.
Speaking in the Senedd, she said: “We are currently in a situation where existing roads are not fit for purpose, following public funding cuts to local authorities as a direct result of the last ten years of Tory austerity.
“I know that Flintshire has a backlog of £40 million, and Wrexham’s backlog for road repairs is £60 million.
“The £20 million from Welsh Government, although it was greatly welcomed last year, needs to significantly increase, just to keep up with the existing road maintenance.
“Investment is needed in our highways across North Wales, along with active travel and public transport.
“Will the minister make a commitment that funding that has been earmarked for road building projects in north Wales, including the red route of Flintshire corridor and the third Menai crossing, will still be invested in north Wales?”
Councillors in Wrexham were told earlier this year that the local authority’s annual budget for fixing potholes stood at around £2m.
Officials said the figure was a third of the amount it received seven years ago, meaning staff often have to resort to temporary patching rather than permanent repairs.
In Flintshire, the council has explored a number of solutions to tackle the issue, including trialling the use of recycled plastic to resurface a road in Connah’s Quay.
Lee Waters, the Welsh Government’s deputy minister for climate change, said he hoped the decision to freeze new projects would result in more money being made available for repairs.
Responding to Ms Thomas, he said: “I certainly agree that we need to be spending more money maintaining the highway network.
“The highway network is the largest asset that the Welsh Government has and that also applies to the local government-owned road network too.
“I think we need to be spending more money on looking after it.
“That’s one of the consequences that I hope will flow from today’s announcement and from our commitment in the Wales transport strategy.”