Cllr Andy Botham, Deputy Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy and Transport responds to Patrick McLoughlin MP and Secretary of State for Transport who was interviewed on BBC Radio Derby last Friday.
I know from talking to voters on a daily basis that Punch and Judy politics is a turn off. But when I heard Patrick McLoughlin MP and Secretary of State for Transport interviewed on Radio Derby last week I had to reply.
The Secretary of State probably thought he could score a few cheap political points sat in his cushy Westminster office. With one eye on next year’s general election and with the Tories yet to win a general election since 1992 I’m sure he thought criticism of Derbyshire County Council’s road maintenance would win a few votes.
Mr McLoughlin said the council should do something about the A6 as at busy periods it might be preventing members of the public visiting Matlock. He even had the cheek to suggest we should be “more creative” with the money we have from the government’s Pinch Point Fund.
Well the Secretary of State doesn’t know his pinch points from his potholes. I spent the day searching for this mystery money he claims to have benevolently gifted us with and I can tell you it doesn’t exist. Last week we got £2.5m to fill in the potholes but that isn’t the problem on the A6.
But I will give Mr McLoughlin a few more reasons why the council can’t do anything to ease congestion on the A6. In fact there are 157 million reasons why Patrick is wrong.
The Tory led government have forced a massive £157m of cuts upon Derbyshire County Council. These are the biggest public service cuts in history. Services such as road maintenance, care for older and disabled people and support for children and families are all being lost.
So I assume the MP for Derbyshire Dales is making a joke when he suggests we can be more “creative” with our budget.
We are doing everything we can to protect Derbyshire people from these government cuts. We are using reserves, leading the way by working with other councils to share services, and cutting senior management expenses.
But the scale of these devastating cuts (a third of our budget will go by 2018) means frontline services are being lost. That is why Labour are this week pledging to devolve power and resources from Whitehall to local councils and develop people-powered public services if we win the next general election.
Therefore if the Secretary of State for Transport wants us solve the problems with the A6 he should do two things. Firstly he should get his government to reverse the biggest cuts to public services in history so we have the resources to ease the congestion. Secondly as the man in charge of Britain’s trains he should cut eye watering train fares so more people can use the trains to get into Matlock. As a train driver I would be happy to meet the MP and offer some advice.
Cllr Andy Botham, Deputy Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy and Transport.