THE deputy leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) has hit back after a Tory colleague claimed the borough’s roads are ‘in a state of managed decline’.

Labour councillor for Central and Grange ward, Karen Shore, addressed Conservative member for Hartford and Greenbank, Martin Loftus, who said the Labour-led council have ‘cut the highways budget by more than half’ with ‘catastrophic’ results, which are ‘plain for all to see’.

Cllr Loftus' comments, published on Wendesday, March 20, describe CWAC’s current highways policy of ‘preventative maintenance’ to try and ‘slow the decline’ of the borough’s road network as ‘mind-blowing’.

In a statement issued on behalf of CWAC’s Labour cabinet, Cllr Shore responded by suggested he ‘should look to his party colleagues for answers’ given CWAC’s overall budgets has been cut by more than £500 million since the Conservatives came to power nationally in 2010.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Martin LoftusCllr Martin Loftus (Image: CWAC)

She added Tory-led councils around the country are facing the same issues, and said the funding cuts indicate ‘the country has been in managed decline’ over the 14 years since the Conservatives came to power.

This comes in the wake of comment from the highways sector this week claiming the national highways maintenance backlog stands at £16.3 billion and is reaching ‘a point of no return’.

Cllr Shore said: “Councils across the country are underfunded, and have been for 14 years.

"Council Tax increases do not bridge the gap created by the choices of Conservative governments, which have taken over half a billion pounds from CWAC, meaning more has to be done with less.

"On top of this, the Government’s recent announcement of £8.3 billion over the next 11 years to improve roads across the country does not go far enough to meet the maintenance backlog of £16.3 billion.

“Despite these challenges, CWAC is investing millions of pounds raised from council tax and business rates into innovative and effective maintenance of roads and footpaths in the borough, as well as safeguarding care for vulnerable adults and children and the other essential services that this council provides.

“Councillor Martin Loftus recently commented on Cheshire West roads being in managed decline’.

“He will be aware that councils led by his own party are reporting similar challenges to this one.

“He will also be aware that the country has been in managed decline since 2010 due to the decisions of his Conservative government, and he should look to his party colleagues for answers to this.”