Cuts to hit potholes battle

Wigans roads are crumbling and the council have slashed the road maintainence fund by 15 per cent
Wigans roads are crumbling and the council have slashed the road maintainence fund by 15 per cent

WIGAN will lose its battle against potholes because of the cuts, it’s claimed today.

Angry council Opposition chiefs also fear that a decision to re-organise the town hall’s highways engineers department to fit in with the new emergency budget could also increase risk to pedestrians “delaying or even scrapping altogether” forthcoming safety schemes such as new zebra crossings or traffic calming programmes.

But Leader of the Metro Lord Smith today challenged them to come up with alternatives as the local authority grapple with £66m Government cuts.

Independent Group leader Coun Gary Wilkes hit out after confirmation from the council’s Traffic Group that in future the borough’s 25 wards will be covered by just THREE engineers.

He claims that the number of staff has halved since he was first elected in 2004, doubling the workload of the remaining highways staff who keep a watching brief on the borough’s highways network which is historically more prone to road surface damage because of the effect of the former coal mining industry.

Coun Wilkes said: “Our area engineers will now be over stretched to cover all the wards in their areas and will struggle to provide a quality service in the coming months and years.

“I have witnessed change after change to the traffic section over the past several years.

“Not so long ago we had six engineers to cover the same area as three must do now.

“I feel for the officers involved as this change is not for the better and is more about savage cuts and reductions to a very important service.

“Road safety must not be compromised when looking to cut the council’s outgoings and we cannot blame the Con Dem Government for everything.”

However, leader of the council Lord Smith today denied road safety would be compromised in the future and challenged the Independent Group over what alternative service revisions they would carry out in the face of the Coalition Government’s cuts to the council’s budgets.

He said: “Coun Wilkes again shows how little he understands council services and the impact of the £66m cuts being forced on Wigan Council by the Government.

“All areas are being reviewed as we seek to make savings while maintaining the best possible services for the public.

“He has no basis to state we will compromise in road safety.”