Cornwall councillor's fears on rural roads upkeep

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Media captionThe estimated cost of repairing Devon and Cornwall's roads is being put at more than £1bn, with recent bad weather making the situation even worse

Rural roads could be neglected as a result of a squeeze on budgets, a councillor has warned.

Bert Biscoe said budget cuts meant the authority could "lose the battle" on maintaining country roads.

Cornwall Council's £1bn budget is being cut by £196m by 2018-19, on top of £170m of savings since 2010.

The Department for Transport said it had given English councils £3.4bn for road maintenance for 2011 to 2015.

Cornwall Council, which is ruled by a Liberal Democrat and independent coalition, is considering which services to cut.

Mr Biscoe, portfolio holder for transport and waste, said Cornwall's economy was "reliant" on rural roads.

Economy's 'nervous system'

"The vast bulk of our productive economy lies down tracks and unclassified roads," he said.

"But we are in a world of shrinking resources.

"And if our maintenance budget is being shrunk we are going to lose the battle.

"We are talking about beginning to abandon parts of rural roads which are the nervous system of the Cornish economy."

His warning came as neighbouring Devon County Council produced a report that suggested there was a "high risk" of the county "not being able to maintain C class and unclassified roads effectively".

The authority has a £204m backlog of repairs for its 4,500-mile (7,200km) highway network, and repairing damage to roads in recent storms will cost another £2m, the authority said.

Mr Biscoe said Cornwall Council would be seeking government help to support its rural roads network.

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