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Highland Council on target for capital spend of almost £3m on Caithness roads

Highland Council leader Raymond Bremner has confirmed that the local authority is on target for a capital spend of almost £3 million on Caithness roads within this financial year.

It will be the biggest amount of capital funding the county has received from the council in a single financial year for its roads infrastructure, he says.

Councillor Bremner supplied a report to the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council (RBWCC) highlighting an increase in capital spending on local roads of more than 300 per cent against the amount committed by the local authority in 2016.

He pointed out that over 177,000 square metres and 45 kilometres of road surface will have been replaced by the end of the financial year.

Councillor Bremner, who represents Wick and East Caithness, said: “For many years before my time Highland Council cut the funding for capital spend on the county’s roads. This is why they have fallen into they state they are in.

"It is only in the past three years that the council has realised that a considerable investment has been needed to stop the continued failure of our roads infrastructure.

"This year, however, as the leader of the council, I was keen to take further action and ensure that additional capital funding was delivered in the areas where it could be demonstrated that it was needed most. This is the first time that such a method of distribution has been put in place.

"The council’s roads infrastructure and roads maintenance is currently under review by the redesign board and I look forward to the outcome of its work and to seeing a new roads maintenance strategy being put in place.

"The roads teams and the support teams they rely on have been given a huge task of ensuring that a considerable amount of additional funding is spent within the county. I’m grateful for their dedication and application.

"While I’m aware that there is so much still to do, I’m also aware of many who have taken the time to thank Highland Council for the work that has been done. It’s really appreciated.”

In his report to RBWCC, Councillor Bremner noted that the local authority had agreed a budget in which certain areas received increased funding where the need could be demonstrated. Caithness and Skye benefited most from this, he pointed out, with Caithness receiving the second highest amount of total capital funding.

He explained that for Caithness the amount of capital investment had increased by of 317 per cent since the 2016/17 financial year.

"RBWCC will know that I have been very active in looking to increase the funding for roads for Caithness and also increase the funding to areas where it is needed most, which include Caithness."

Councillor Bremner emphasised that it will take time, given the "sustained amount of underinvestment over many years", adding: "There is no magic wand and the council will continue to be challenged when it comes to making choices during its forthcoming budget decision-making process."

He listed several roads in Wick where work is planned soon. These include North Road, George Street, Argyle Square, Union Street and High Street / Bridge Street, along with white-lining of junctions.

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