Councils across Wales will be allowed to borrow more money to increase funding of highways improvements, the Welsh Government has announced.
The Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI) could mean an extra £170m invested in highways’improvements over the next three years.
Transport Minister Carl Sargeant said: “The Local Government Borrowing Initiative will result in a significant increase in the ability of local authorities to fund major improvements to our highways by targeting the problems that exist in the road network.
“By freeing up this funding we will be able to improve the condition of our roads, reduce travel times and by reducing potholes increase safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. This new investment will be providing the Welsh economy with a considerable and much needed boost in terms of jobs in the construction sector.”
Finance Minister Jane Hutt added: “By giving local authorities the opportunity to borrow funding to accelerate road improvement projects we are helping to create new job opportunities for local people as well as providing supply chain opportunities for local businesses.
“We are currently working on our Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan which will act as a shop window to the Welsh Government’s major investments in infrastructure. The LGBI is exactly the kind of investment that will support the Plan.
“The Plan is ensuring that we are clear and transparent about how we turn our priorities into investment and will not only provide an insight for the private sector into the future direction of Welsh Government investment, but will also provide context for our infrastructure investment.”
John Davies, Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association said the condition of the highway network was a top concern for residents and business.
He said: “Local authorities and WLGA have been in ongoing dialogue with Welsh Government over recent years seeking additional funding to improve the condition of the highway network.
“Until recently there has been a large gap between the amount of money needed to bring roads in Wales up to standard and the amount being spent each year. This new proposal draws on all the good practice seen across Wales and will enable a comprehensive approach across the whole of Wales on a scale far greater than has been possible before. It will allow significant progress to be made in improving the standard of our highways.
“Whilst inevitably there will be short term disruption whilst work is undertaken there will be benefits to all road users and an important stimulus to jobs and the economy – directly in terms of the works themselves and indirectly in terms of a reduction in accidents and congestion.”