Five million pound pavement bill

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WIGAN Council has spent nearly £5m fixing the borough’s pavements in the last four years.

The figures were revealed as part of a Guide Dogs campaign to urge councils to use Government legislation to stop people parking on pavements.

In four years from 2007 the council spent £4,938,654 repairing pavements, kerbs and public walkways.

In 2010, the most recent year figures were provided for, the council spent £1,132,941, a drop nearly £80,000 from the previous year, but a rise of £93,904 on 2008. It is estimated that 20 per cent of damage to footpaths in the UK is caused by cars parking on them.

In relation to the amount spent in Wigan since 2007 this equates to nearly £1m.

A spokesman for the charity said: “Pavements are built to cope with the weight of people – including people in wheelchairs, mums with pushchairs, blind or partially sighted people with long canes or guide dogs and older people with shopping trolleys.

“They’re not built to withstand cars, vans or lorries, and paving slabs are particularly vulnerable to cracking under the pressure. Cracked paving slabs can be a tripping hazard, especially for those who can’t see to avoid the menace.”

Each year the council budgets a certain amount of money to be kept specifically for use in this area and in the four years until 2010 nearly half of the overall amount spent on repairs, £2,227,918, was reserved in a separate fund.

Although Wigan’s spending was relatively high Salford had spent a staggering £8,642,500 in four years, despite only spending £439,700 in 2010.

But Liverpool City Council only spent £15,272, which averages at less than £4,000 a year.

As parts of it Streets Ahead Campaign the charity, which helps blind and partially sighted people, wants to get safer walkways for pedestrians across the country.

Last year the Department for Transport gave councils permission to use signs to indicate pavement parking bans.

Prior to that special signs authorisation from Government had to be sought.

Addressing councils the charity’s spokesman said: “The DfT has given you the power to ban parking on pavements; we urge you to use it. You will see your highway repairs bill go down, as well as making your area an easy place for all pedestrians to walk.”