Town’s road improvements in slow lane

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SCARBOROUGH residents have been warned not to expect any significant improvements to the town’s road infrastructure for years to come.

At the end of March, North Yorkshire County Council will take over the management of the roads in the town’s urban area from Scarborough Borough Council, ending an agreement that has been in place for 35 years.

John Riby, the borough council’s head of technical services, told a meeting of Castle Ward Tenants and Residents’ Association that the financial situation the county council face will limit their capability to improve the town’s highways.

“The county council are no different to ourselves in terms of financial constraints,” he said. “In some ways they are worse off.

“Unless it is a matter of highway maintenance or road safety it is unlikely they will be able to do anything.

“If you want a new scheme for road improvement or traffic calming, the answer is going to be ‘sorry we can’t do anything about it.’

“It’s unlikely we’re going to get any significant investment in our highways infrastructure for four or five years.”

Mr Riby said that larger projects similar to the A64 diversion or the Park and Ride may not be seen again for decades.

He added that the borough council would have faced a similar situation had it remained in charge of the town’s roads, as the county council would have reduced its highways maintenance budget.

New reports of highways issues are already being passed to the county council in anticipation of the handover.

However Mr Riby assured residents that work would continue on the town’s potholes until March 31.

“We are trying to make our way around them all,” he said.

It has been announced that an additional £100 million of central government cash has been made available to councils in England to deal with the problem.

From April, the county council officers in charge of Scarborough’s roads will work from an office in Whitby.

The 40 staff members who are currently employed by the borough council will instead work for the county council for a year.

From March 2012, they will then be employed by a outside contractor who will work on behalf of the local authority.

A new depot will be built at Scarborough’s business park, although the county council will operate from Dean Road depot for the time being.

“The decision on highways was taken out of our hands,” Mr Riby added. “It was a political decision made by the county council. We made representations but they decided they wanted to do it.

“It will be a sad day because some of the guys have been working for us since 1975.

“There is a danger that when you take on a contractor things will not be the same.”

Car parking enforcement will still be carried out by the borough council under the terms of a separate agency agreement.

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