Wokingham Borough will receive £13,095,000 of additional funding from the Conservative Government over the next eleven years, meaning thousands of people across will enjoy smoother, safer, and faster road journeys.
The funding has been welcomed by the Council’s Conservative Group, who have been critical of Wokingham Borough’s Liberal Democrat/Labour administration for reducing road repairs spending in real-terms.
The new funding follows the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement at Conservative Party Conference that the £36 billion that would have been spent extending HS2 would now be spent on long-term transport improvements that will deliver better, faster journeys for far more people.
New plans allow the Conservative Government to invest £8.3 billion, enough to resurface over 5,000 miles of roads across the country, saving motorists up to £440 on vehicle repairs and creating smoother, safer and easier journeys for all.
Wokingham Borough will receive more than its Berkshire neighbours Reading, Windsor and Maidenhead, Bracknell and Slough.
Wokingham Borough will receive £418,000 this financial year, followed by a further £418,000 for 2024-25, as part of a long-term funding plan through to 2034.
This funding comes on top of the local transport, road and rail budgets allocated at the last Spending Review and in addition to what local authorities have already been given and were already expecting for the next decade.
In March, the Government gave Wokingham Borough an additional £589,200 to help maintain local roads. By contrast, the Council’s Liberal Democrat administration froze road repairs spending – effectively a real-terms cut as prices rise globally.
In May the Borough was also awarded £606,215 from the Department for Transport's Active Travel Fund. Instead of spending this on improvements to cycleways and paths the Council planned to spend the money on design work and analysis. The Conservative Group raised concerns that it would deliver no benefit for residents.
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, Leader of the Conservative Group, said: “People across Wokingham Borough rely on our roads to go about their daily lives, and I know the inconvenience potholes can cause.
“Our Borough will benefit from Government’s decision to redirect HS2 funding to local highway authorities, with Wokingham Borough set to receive £13,095,000. That is more funding than most of our Berkshire neighbours.
“Wokingham’s Lib Dem administration has made a conscious choice to underfund road repairs since they took office. Their budget for 2023/24 included a real-terms cut in money for road repairs compared to rising costs due to inflation affecting many countries. They also reduced spending on fixing potholes in their first year running the Council, as they admitted in their own Revenue Monitoring Report in January.
“The Conservatives increased the road repair budget for the last three years we were in office, from about £2m to £6m per annum. Figures from a Freedom of Information request showed that nearly 700 fewer potholes were repaired under the Lib Dems than under the previous Conservative administration over a six month period.
“Whether in national Government or locally in Wokingham Borough, the Conservatives are committed to supporting residents to travel, whether that’s by car, cycle or public transport.”