Politicians clash over roads cash

SNP group leader Councillor Ian Mackay has written to Lib Dem depute council leader Ashay Ghai to ask why he has not spent all the roads budget.

Councillor Ghai is the convenor of the neighbourhood services committee which includes road repairs and Councillor Mackay has queried the fact that his budget has been underspent by £576,200.

Councillor Mackay said: “LibDem MP Jo Swinson has spoken of her concerns over road spending numerous times.

“Why then, has her councillor not spent his budget to alleviate this problem?

“It was also reported that the Labour/Lib Dem/Conservative administration have failed for the third year in a row to spend more than 60 per cent of its capital budget. It fell short this year by a massive £18.103million.

“Why the ruling administration would imagine that there will be additional money coming to East Dunbartonshire Council when they can’t spend what they already have defeats me.”

Councillor Ghai said: “There’s no underspend in the roads capital programme. We carry forward funding where spending is delayed due to contractual issues, landownership disputes etc. The funding is not lost but transferred to the next year to allow projects to proceed. This allows sensible scheduling of work and avoids rushed end of year spends simply to clear budgets.

“It’s been nationally recognised that there is a deterioration in road conditions. All councils face a backlog of repairs - our own stands at £44m. This is the figure needed to return all of our roads to a condition where no defects exist.

“EDC has allocated over £5m each year for the last five years, for roads and infrastructure. It is recognised that greater investment from central government is required if the backlog is to be addressed. Our current estimate is that we would need a 25% increase in the capital allocation over the next 10 years to properly address the issue.”