Few people can have failed to notice just how bad Farnham’s roads are at the moment. This was dramatically underlined at the weekend when one of my colleagues had a near miss on his bicycle in the town centre.
Luckily it was just a bit of bruising, some torn clothes and a flat tyre, but it could have been much worse. The roads are not just uncomfortable for those of us travelling in our cars but are also starting to be very dangerous for more vulnerable road users.
I have been struck by how everyone appears to be playing the blame game on this issue. The Farnham Residents Party blame the Lib Dems at Waverley. The Lib Dems blame the Tories in Surrey. And so on. No doubt they all bear some responsibility, but this rancour helps no-one.
In a desperate pre-election ploy, the government belatedly announced it would provide extra funding, but this was widely condemned as too little too late. The Asphalt Industry Alliance said English councils received only 2/3 of what they needed this year to stop local roads further deteriorating. It found that 18 per cent of the local roads network is in poor condition and has less than five years of life remaining.
The organisation said budgets had not kept pace with cost increases and government funding was not enough to prevent further decline of road conditions.
I should point out that Labour-run local councils invest more than 50 per cent more per head per year in roads maintenance than Tory-run councils but, though true, I suspect that it will provide little consolation for residents.
The broader issue here is that over the past 13 years, this government has run down our public services to a completely unacceptable level.
This can be seen in our struggling NHS, in the armed forces and police, and across our social care and local authority services especially.
That’s before we consider vitally important new priorities, like insulating our homes which are the leakiest in Europe.
The finger pointing and squabbling between our local politicians needs to stop, and at all levels we should be standing up for investment in modern public services. It means more competitive wages for staff and better care for our infrastructure. This would give our community the services it deserves and will help to propel the UK back into the top nations of the world. We shouldn’t have to squabble over potholes.
Chair, Farnham Labour Party