Northumberland’s Liberal Democrats have rubbished claims by local Conservatives that they aren’t doing enough to improve the county’s roads.
It comes after figures on BBC Look North revealed that of 54,000 potholes filled in the North East and Cumbria in the last year, some 34,000 of them were in Northumberland.
But the Tories have hit back, claiming that the figures merely highlight the neglect of the roads during the Lib Dems’ stint in County Hall.
Jeff Reid, who is leader of the Lib Dem-run county council, said: “This is just further evidence that the Conservatives are talking rubbish on our roads – they say we’re not doing enough, but we are doing more than 11 other councils combined, and we are going to do even more in the coming year.
“The Conservatives have been telling everyone we aren’t doing enough but their own Guy Opperman (MP for Hexham) has criticised us for spending money to fix the landslip at Rothbury, and Conservative-led Cumbria has some of the worst roads in the region.
“We are committed to investing in our roads. We are going to fill even more potholes this year with our state-of-the-art machine, we are going to build a new £25million bypass at Morpeth, we are fixing the landslips at Rothbury and Stocksfield; and, of course, we will continue to fight hard for the A1 to be fully dualled.
“The Tories are talking a lot about our roads, but it’s the Lib Dems who are actually putting money into them and giving our county the road network it needs.”
But Conservative group leader Peter Jackson said: “The vast number of potholes that had to be filled in Northumberland last year is a real legacy of the massive neglect of our local roads by the Liberal Democrat-run county council. It seems perverse for the Liberal Democrats to crow about this when they should be hiding their heads in shame.
“It is clear that the leader of the Liberal Democrats does not get out of his heartland in Blyth at all as the poor state of our local roads is the very first thing that residents always bring up with me as I go around the county. Is he going to continue to deny what people can see with their own eyes?
“Northumberland Conservatives have consistently been saying that there needs to be a fundamental change in the way that we look after our roads. Planned, permanent repairs will not only give us better roads but actually make economic sense for the taxpayer.
“We all know that the current sticking plaster approach of the short-term pothole patching is not working.
“As with many of the council’s practices a new approach is long overdue.”