£13m to help fix Central Bedfordshire's potholes, fix street lights and pay for road signs

They council is trialling new equipment as part of its savings plans

Service efficiencies should ensure a near £13m budget spend on highways in Central Bedfordshire mends holes in the road, without leaving too big a hole in your pocket, a meeting heard.

The money, which also helps fix street lights, clear gulleys and pay for road signs, is part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s capital programme for 2022/23.

The local authority is trialling new equipment as part of its savings plans, which reduces the impact on the service it provides residents, an executive meeting was told.

Central Bedfordshire Council

Presenting the budget for the next financial year, Conservative Arlesey councillor and executive member for corporate resources David Shelvey said: “We’ve included almost £13m in our capital expenditure for highways.

“Our investment in this area is substantially more than many of our neighbouring authorities.

“It was also suggested there should be extra spending on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. This is our intention and is already built into this budget.”

Conservative Dunstable Central councillor Carole Hegley asked for clarity over whether there would be ANPR cameras in vehicles, as well as static ones, because of “an expectation in the town” for both.

Conservative Arlesey councillor Ian Dalgarno told the executive: “ANPR cameras have a number of uses.

“They can be used for goods vehicle weight limits,” he explained. “We also have ANPR vehicles which we’ve got on order. So we’ll be looking to roll out schemes on both of those across the coming years.

“I appreciate councillors always want extra money spent on roads and pavements. In the national surveys, our highways in the east of England are in the top quartile.

“We’ve good roads, and it’s nice to say each year we put a substantial amount of capital into our highways and how we plan things.

“We’re picking up on the ANPR camera recommendation. There’s new legislation which will allow us to take a look at moving traffic violations going forward.

“We’ve put money in the budgets to support that. And we hope as that comes forward we can hit the ground running.

“Regarding the current highways contract with Ringway Jacobs, we’re putting our proposals together and we’ll get a provider’s plan back on that.

“I’m satisfied with the level of investment in that,” added councillor Dalgarno, who’s the executive member for community services. “It’s not just about saying we want an amount of money. It’s about efficiencies.

“There’s a product we’re working with called Rejuvo treatment, a new technique for repairing footways and carriageways. It’s extremely quick and it’s more environmentally friendly.

“We’ll continue that trial until April and I suspect we’ll be rolling this out. This means we save money on that contract.

“We’re also investing in a number of other areas, such as road closures and how we do diversion information, trialling automated permit boards, again a cheaper quicker way of doing things.

“There’s a massive investment scheme into street lights. That’s 26,500 street lights which have been inspected at night, with 550 in need of repair.

“Of those 370 have been done already and we’ve repaired more than 2,400 street lights in the course of the year,” he said.

“We’ve repaired 2,900 potholes in that time, along with more than 1,000 pavement repairs, cleaned more than 19,000 gulleys, replaced more than 500 signs, and completed 675 tree and vegetation schemes across Central Bedfordshire.

“We invest very carefully in our highways infrastructure and I think we get good value for money.”

CBC is “undertaking the procurement of a delivery partner to maintain, manage and improve its highway network and associated assets”, which will begin delivery from April 1st 2023.