A major £120M infrastructure fund has been approved by Oxfordshire County Council, easing the spending squeeze on road and property repairs.
The Council has agreed to borrow up to £120M which will be invested in highway and council-owned building improvements, following a report on under-investment in the area.
The report acknowledged that under-investment has resulted in significant reduction in quality of major and minor roads, as well as pavements, with an increase in car damage and personal injury claims, and residents regularly calling for improvements. While council-owned buildings, such as schools, also require investment.
The investment proposal means the whole county would be benefit from a ‘growth dividend’. Oxfordshire’s expected growth in homes and council tax income gives scope to borrow to invest that will, over the long term, save money.
The county council has already agreed to spend £10M extra this year on the roads, in response to research by the independent Transport Research Laboratory that shows that maintaining roads generates £5 within the local economy for every £1 invested.
Councillor Yvonne Constance, the council’s cabinet member for Environment said: “Oxfordshire’s expected growth in homes and council tax income gives us the scope to borrow money to invest that will over the long term save us money.
“This growth dividend would mean serious money for serious work. Some of Oxfordshire’s roads have fewer than five years of life left. We are where we because councils have had difficulties due to the well documented combination of rising demand for social care and falling funding levels overall over many years. This is a problem for local government to deal with across the UK
“We have already taken action in response to road conditions and having already agreed in July to spend £10M extra on the roads. This new money will allows us to get ahead of the curve and make a real difference
“We all know that our roads, pavements and bridges need extra investment and this plan seeks to unlock the funding to allow that to happen. This plan gives us a logical and sustainable way out of the current situation – the benefits of which we hope people will begin to see on our roads sooner rather than later.”