Sussex councils face cuts to road maintenance budgets

Pothole - generic image East Sussex County Council has an estimated backlog of 20,000 potholes to repair

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A transport chief in East Sussex has said he is confident his team can cope with an estimated backlog of 20,000 potholes despite facing cuts.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) faces a £1.5m reduction in its highways maintenance budget from £25m to £23.5m.

Rupert Clubb, the director of transport and environment at the Conservative-run council, said he did not believe the cuts would impact on the service.

But MP Norman Baker said the roads were "not particularly brilliant".

Mr Baker, the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said: "I know the county council's got budget problems like everyone else, but I very much hope they'll find a bit more money for pothole maintenance in this county."

Mr Clubb said: "I think we have taken a reasonable share. Like everywhere we have to play our part in reducing the national deficit.

'Stick-tape solution'

"I have got a good team who are out there filling potholes and getting the roads in as good a condition as possible.

"Clearly, in circumstances like these, you can never have enough money, but you have to prioritise with what you have."

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Mr Clubb said there were an estimated 20,000 potholes along the 2,000 miles of the county's roads, caused in part by two "exceptional winters."

He said the council would bid for a sluice of the £100m put aside by the government last week for councils who felt they had been badly hit by potholes.

He added: "It will take a while for us to get on top of it because there are a lot out there."

Councillor Gill Mitchell, the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said the government grant was a "stick-tape solution to what is a longer-term problem".

Vera Wren, of Hailsham in East Sussex, said she had encountered "terrible conditions" on a recent trip through the county.

She said: "Soon our roads will be no better than cart tracks. If one swerves to avoid a pothole, it is very dangerous to oncoming traffic.

"I know all about the cutbacks, but it is no longer a pleasure to drive on our roads."

Elsewhere, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is cutting its highways maintenance budget from £34.7m to an estimated £30.3m.

WSCC, responding to Freedom of Information requests by the BBC, said it believed the sum would be sufficient to deal with road repairs.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said councils should stop "bleating" for more funds

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