By Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, asset management and inward investment.
When I became cabinet member with responsibility for transport, I promised that the council would invest more in our roads and pavements than it had in recent memory. I knew we needed to raise the bar. I knew that we needed an ambitious and long-term programme for our roads and pavements, and I knew that this is something that matters to local people.
Our ambition and what we have achieved
Last year, the council agreed a game-changing £50m of investment in road and pavement resurfacing over the next five years (£10m per year). This was compared to just under £3m the year before. The council have delivered on this £10m investment in the first year, and we are close to completing our resurfacing programme for this year.
This has had a major impact and seen 47 roads and 24 pavements resurfaced to date, with three months of resurfacing ahead of us. You can find a full list of roads and pavements for resurfacing, here: www.southend.gov.uk/resurfacing
Not only have we met our first-year goal for this five-year investment plan, but we have also continued to seek other forms of external funding to provide even further levels of investment in our roads and pavements.
We have funded the resurfacing of ten zebra crossings across the Borough - with refreshed line markings and road surfaces, as well as ensuring the appropriate skid resistance is in place, making these areas safer for drivers and pedestrians.
We have also completed the Bell junction upgrade. This has improved traffic flow in and out of one of the main routes into the town. This £5m project was again funded separately to the £10m we have invested in resurfacing.
This high level of investment is even more impressive when you consider the challenges local authorities have faced over the past 10 years with significant reductions in our Government grants, alongside the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
More to come
Whilst we are delighted with the progress made in our first year, we know there is a long way to go. We are confident that £10m will also be invested in 2022/23, and with other potential funding sources, we may well exceed the target, so watch this space.
Improving our road and pavement network is not an overnight fix. This is rightly a long-term programme and I want our residents to know that our ambition of improving our neighbourhoods is very much focussed on improving our town’s roads and pavements.