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Pothole repair risk

Potholes could be left unfilled in Torbay under proposed budget cuts

Potholes could be left unfilled under budget cuts planned for Torbay next year.

The savings could also result in children’s play equipment taped off instead repaired, grass cut only three times a year, and less planting of flowers.

Meanwhile stretches of roads with free on-street parking could see meters introduced, along with new pay-and-display car parks.

Those are among the possible results of savings and changes to services provided by Torbay Council’s Place teams outlined in the fine print of the mayor’s proposed budget for next year.

The road maintenance budget, currently only enough to react to maintenance problems across Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, is set to fall by £320,000 from £2.1m.

The budget report warns: “The Highways maintenance budget is only sufficient to cover reactive repairs and, due to the reduction in investment into planned maintenance over previous years, these reactive costs are increasing year-on-year.

“A reduction to the highways budget of this size will potentially leave insufficient revenue funding to carry out the level of reactive repairs expected as the condition of the highway network continues to deteriorate.”

In October the elected mayor Gordon Oliver revealed the backlog in highways repairs in Torbay had risen to more than 500 roads which need resurfacing at a cost of more than £20m.

Elsewhere, the budget plan reveals a proposal to cut £7,000 from the £74,000 annual playgrounds budget.

That is expected to reduce maintenance from routine inspections of play equipment.

The report warns of the risk that “When the budget is exhausted any faulty equipment will need to be decommissioned until alternative funding can be identified.”

The budget proposes savings £125,000 from contracts covering natural environment services and adds: “Grass might only be cut three times per year and seasonal bedding plants might be impacted in certain areas.”

It proposes raising £5,000 by new on-street parking meters and pay-and-display parking, but warns of “Community resistance when parking charges are introduced in areas where parking is currently free.”

This year’s £100,000 illuminations budget is set to be cut by £30,000.

Officers will be seeking sponsorship to cover some of the costs – alongside coming up with a different way of providing the service outside the street-lighting budget.

The budget report says: “This is not a statutory function. If the illuminations were turned off and the asset remained in place the saving might be around £60k as the asset will continue to require ongoing maintenance.

“Opportunities to look for sponsorship will need to take account of the increased expectation should the apparatus become defective or damaged.”

It has already been revealed that a grant to next year’s Torbay Air Show would be scrapped under the proposals.

But the mayor has given a commitment that the show will go ahead, funded by income and sponsorship.

The council is having to make £17 million pounds of savings by 2022, with £7.5 million needed in the next financial year 2019/2020, due a reduction in Government funding.

Mayor Oliver said at the launch of consultation on the proposed budget for next year that statutory services to protect the vulnerable were being maintained, and extra cash was going in to meet rising demand for children’s social care.

He said: “We have to protect services that we need to deliver by law, which quite rightly support the most vulnerable people in our communities, but this requires finding efficiencies in other areas.

“The latest draft budget proposals will have an impact on local residents, visitors, our communities and service users, and if I had a choice I would not be proposing to make these changes.”

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