ROCHDALE (HEYWOOD): Area of town to miss out on roads cash for the first time in 20 years – but councillor insists people ‘don’t give a toss’ where money is spent
Councillor Alan McCarthy - Rochdale Council
An area of Heywood is to miss out on cash for repairing and resurfacing roads for the first time in 20 years.
But a leading councillor responded to claims of ‘unfairness’ by insisting the town’s residents won’t ‘give a toss’ where the money is spent as long as the worst roads are fixed.
There are 12 schemes proposed for Heywood under Rochdale council’s two-year capital programme for 2022-2024.
However, rather than splitting the £440,000 pot equally between the township’s three wards, North Heywood gets the lion’s share with seven schemes, while there are just four in West Heywood.
And while one scheme is earmarked for Hopwood Hall ward, Hind Hill Street moves into North Heywood next year as part of the boundary changes.
The arrangements – put forward by the council’s highways team – are based on Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines and aim to ‘achieve the highest level of network improvement available within the allocated budget’.
Local authorities not deemed to be carrying out efficient highway improvements can have their funding reduced – by up to £410k in Rochdale’s case.
However, these were deemed ‘unfair’ by two Conservative councillors at a meeting of Heywood Township committee.
West Heywood councillor Alan McCarthy said the cash had been split equally for 22 years and he saw no reason to change now.
“I can’t pass anything where one ward actually gets no work done whatsoever,” he said.
And while he acknowledged further repairs could be funded through unspent monies, he noted that came down to a ‘wishlist’ rather than ‘guaranteed’ schemes’
“There are no guarantees whatsoever, it’s a no from me,” he said.
“75pc of this money is going in North Heywood, only three to West Heywood, none going into Hopwood Hall. It’s unfair when one ward doesn’t get anything, so I will be voting against it.”
Fellow Tory councillor Jacqui Beswick agreed that the allocation of money was unfair and said she could not support the proposals.
However North Heywood councillor Liam O’Rourke – also cabinet member for the environment – begged to differ.
“My view is that people in Heywood don’t give a toss about what ward it’s in,” he said.
“If they drive across a bad road they want it sorted and that’s what needs doing. These roads have been ranked from best to worst, it just happens this year the dice has fallen one way.
Coun O’Rourke argued that North Heywood contained the town centre and needed ‘the majority of the investment in highways.
“This is a scheme I welcome,” he said.
“It’s about time we have people in Heywood being able to drive across the whole of Heywood on decent roads.
“I think that’s what they really want. They don’t want to see us chucking in extra schemes just for the sake of it as a tick-box exercise so every ward is included.”
Hopwood Hall councillor Carol Wardle pointed out the ward was receiving funding on the Middleton side of the line – and that requested repairs were being covered by a different programme.
The two year local transport plan (LTP) funded capital programme was approved by five votes to two.
Heywood Township committee met at the Old Police Station, Hind Hill Street, on Monday night (November 23).
Words: Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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