As the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services it is my job to make sure our department is running smoothly. From recycling to roads, grit bins and waste disposal my department covers a lot of the areas many people think of as basic necessities in terms of council service provision. Last winter during the major cold snap 'the Beast from the East', it was my department's responsibiltiy to keep the county moving. We've had some real successes this summer, but there is no time to rest before making sure we're prepared for the worst conditions the winter may throw our way.
This summer was Northumberland Conservatives' first full summer in control of Northumberland County Council, and we have excelled in a number of areas.When we took control the county was left with a backlog of potholes which we're steadily getting on top of. The previous leader told residents this county doesn't have a pothole problem, and residents used their votes to tell him that it does. We pledged to spend £100 million on our county's roads over our four year term and that is what we're doing.
Rather than hiding from the big problems, as our predecessors did, we are planning ahead to make sure that the next time we're faced with a challenge this county is ready. The last winter was one of the toughest Northumberland has faced in a generation. A snap snowstorm ravaged the county leaving some residents cut off from essential services and many unable to travel. Although we are still some way off winter we are already topping up salt bins and grit piles and servicing our fleet in readiness. The first 38000 tons of salt have been ordered and is being delivered. So although it would be a lot cheaper if we had a mild winter we are ready to respond if nature throws up another storm.
We are repairing the damage from the March snow events which is being carried out through our new £1 million structural patching programme across the County. This confronts the nuissance of potholes head on by removing the tarmac around the hole, replacing it with a stronger material meaning the days of filling in the hole for it to disintegrate within the week are gone.
Prevention is the best solution though, and by making sure that if a cold snap does occur that we are ready, we can ensure that the damage to our county's road network is minimal.