A north-east MP has written to SNP ministers asking for clarity on the spending of nearly £50million of pothole funding for local authorities.
Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, has spoken to hundreds of residents in the past few weeks who said their main issue was potholes.
Aberdeenshire Council is responsible for the local road network but its funding is decided by the Scottish Government, which Mr Bowie suggests is not fairly distributed across local authorities.
The council allocated £2.5m of its “overstretched budget” to tackle the “pothole crisis” but more money is needed to improve the condition of rural roads in Aberdeenshire.
A £2.5m “pothole fund” created by the UK Government resulted in an additional £48.6m being added to the Scottish budget, however, Mr Bowie says there is “little evidence that any of this money has been passed on” to roads in the north-east.
Asking for answers
The Conservative MP has now written to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Transport Secretary Michael Matheson for clarity on how this money is being spent.
He has asked them to confirm if the funding has been given to councils “specifically for pothole repairs, or simply lumped in with their block grant, or worse, ringfenced for other purposes”.
Mr Bowie said: “The number one issue raised by constituents on my summer surgery tour was the state of the roads.
“Getting to work, hauling goods and produce, visiting friends and family, taking the kids on a day trip at the weekend – all at the mercy of road conditions which are often substandard, particularly if you happen to live in a rural area.
“The local authority here has budgeted £2.5m for pothole repairs from its core budget, but I think everyone knows that much more is needed. That’s what the pothole fund is there for.
“People are seeing no evidence that this fantastic pot of cash, which could fix 100,000 holes every year, is escaping the Central Belt.
“So I have asked the SNP to outline where that money is going, and tell Aberdeenshire residents that they are going to get a fair share of resources in the future.”
A widespread issue
More than 20,000 potholes were recorded across the country in the past year, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.
Mr Bowie highlighted some of the roads most in need of repairs brought up during a recent surgery, including St Mary’s in Monymusk, Napier Place in Marykirk and Badentoy Crescent in Portlethen.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Maintenance of the local road network is the responsibility of local authorities and it is the responsibility of individual councils to manage their own budgets and to allocate the total financial resources available to them on the basis of local needs and priorities.
“In 2021-22, Aberdeenshire Council will receive a total funding package of £503.3m, which includes an extra £19m to support vital day-to-day services, equivalent to an increase of 4.1% compared to 2020-21.”
Earlier this year, north-east MSP Liam Kerr also expressed concerns about the condition of Aberdeenshire’s roads saying temporary repairs were not enough.
Poor weather and delays during lockdown resulted in an increase of road issues being reported to the council, so road teams have been carrying out “major” roadworks over the summer months.