Highways funding ‘biased’ towards southern councils

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A gulf of £124.5 million between funding for highways schemes in the north and the south of England has been criticised by a South Yorkshire MP.

Figures have been released by the Department for Transport which show councils across the north received 15 per cent less funding for road maintenance than their southern counterparts since the start of 2011-12.

Penistone and Stocksbridge Labour MP Angela Smith, who sits on the all party parliamentary group for road maintenance, said: “No-one should be surprised. As with other areas of spending, this Government is intent on protecting its own backyard.”

Since the start of 2011-12, northern councils received £736.9m for pothole repairs - £51.24 per head of population - against £1.2 billion in the south, £59.90 per head.

However, the figures do not include Sheffield, which has received £2bn private finance initiative funding for its Streets Ahead scheme to resurface crumbling roads and pavements.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We don’t allocate funding based on population but likely need, based on road length and likely bridge and lighting repairs.

“We are reviewing the funding.”

■ Barnsley Council is to spend £1.8m on roads, £750,000 on footpaths and £250,000 on town centre improvements over the coming year.

The council is getting extra Government funding of £572,000 in 2013-14 and £306,000 in 2014-15 for road repairs.