Plans to invest an extra £1million in Highland roads next year would still be woefully short of the amount needed to bring them up to scratch, according to opposition councillors.
Council leaders will offer the choice at a meeting in Inverness on Thursday, having last week secured a £2million capital budget boost from the Scottish Government for the coming financial year.
Opposition councillors have complained, however, that £1million would have little impact on the scale of deteriorating road surfaces and deep potholes across the region.
Budget leader Bill Fernie said: “We’ve already committed a significant amount of capital investment into our road infrastructure over the next few years. This is an opportunity to add to that and attract additional matched funding.”
Councillors warned last summer that Highland motorists could face pitted and potholed roads for years to come because of a combination of the global financial crisis and added complication of local disagreements over prioritising routes to repair.
The timber industry, through a fund managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, has offered £7.85million of Scotland-wide matched funding to improve roads and reduce disruption.
Highland Council approved an additional £24.5million in December 2015 for roads, bridges and piers to be included in its capital plan, together with an extra £1.6million for minor floodworks over the next decade.
Lib Dem group leader Alasdair Christie said: “Any additional expenditure on roads is welcome considering the dire condition they’re in.
“However, we regard an extra £1million insufficient to really address the problem and urge the Scottish Government to invest seriously and meaningfully in local government finance so councils can get on with the mammoth task of improving atrocious road conditions.”
Transport chairman Allan Henderson said: “We have nearly 4,500 miles of roads in the Highlands and this network is vital to our rural communities and lifeline services.
“Every penny invested also helps to support our tourism and business economy as well as improve connectivity.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are investing a huge amount in roads infrastructure for the Highlands, including the ongoing work to dual both the A9 and the A96.
“While it is for local councils to decide how to spend its budget according to local needs and priorities, the Scottish Government has treated local government very fairly, despite the cuts to the Scottish Budget from the UK Government. Highland Council’s overall increase in spending power to support local authority services in 2017-18 will amount to almost £20.4 million or 4.4 per cent.”