Across Wirral, the local authority currently manages 1,200km of roads, 2,000km of pavements, 38,000 street lights, 120 bridges, and 300 signal junctions.
Over the next two years, it expects to invest more than £14m and nearly £38m between 2022 and 2027 through money from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.
The figures were revealed as Wirral looks at how it will manage its “largest and most valuable asset” going forward through a new highways management strategy. To do this, the council said it will have to balance with its budget pressures from population growth, new developments, and the potential impacts of climate change.
It will look at managing its roads “in an organised and efficient manner to ensure that the network meets the needs and expectations of our stakeholders as much as possible, within the constraints we face.” A more detailed plan outlining how the council will do this going forward is expected to come forward in the future.
At an environment and transport committee meeting, Cllr Steve Foulkes said, “Without it, all else falls by the wayside if you can’t get from A to B so I think we’ve done well with limited resources to maintain that asset in good state,” adding, “The only time you realise that asset is under threat is when you get bad weather.”
He thanked the council for work it did keeping roads open during recent ice and snow, adding, “They could tell when they reached the borough from various angles that the roads were better and clearer. People from Liverpool were struggling to get from their part and once they came out of the tunnel, they realised that we’d done a good job.”
However, later in the meeting, Cllr Allan Brame pointed to data showing a deterioration in the condition of some roads on the Wirral. A committee performance report showed poor conditions on B+C roads increasing as well as unclassified roads. A roads have improved slightly but are still much worse than pre-pandemic figures.
In response, council officer Simon Fox said, “Generally I think are roads are in good condition overall, particularly the main roads, and we’ve done very well out of the way we’ve managed budgets over the years to keep that condition steady.
“There has been a decline in recent years but that’s purely a function of budgets and funding.”
Officers said further details on what works the council plans to do over the next two years as well as projections for the future condition of infrastructure in light of this will come to the committee later this year.
The performance report also erroneously said zero potholes had been patched across Wirral by October 2023 but officers clarified the data was incomplete and this figure was incorrect.