IT’S just a drop in the ocean.
That was a council boss’s reaction after the Government revealed how much money it is handing out to fix roads and other infrastructure devastated by the winter floods.
City council leader Simon Letts said: “While we are grateful for any extra government cash the amount on offer is tiny compared to the massive cuts we have suffered in the course of this Parliament cut which amounts to £148 per person over the five years.
“This money will allow us to resurface about 0.3 per cent of our road network and represents a drop in the ocean in terms of the money we need to bring the roads in the city up to a decent standard.”
County council leader Roy Perry added that a figure closer to £50m could be needed.
He said: “It’s a very complicated picture but our current estimates have the damage to our infrastructure costing around £36m to repair.
“We are still waiting for the water to recede in some places so we can send divers down to inspect our bridges. I would not be surprised if our estimates go above £50m.”
Cllr Perry said it was a “significant contribution” and added: “We are grateful for this significant contribution to what we believe could be a liability of at least £35m, so getting a third of that initially is a really helpful first step.”
The county council has more than 5,000 miles of roads to maintain and Cllr Perry said fixing them “as quickly as possible” was a priority.
For residents in flood-hit areas the priority is on preventing such a scenario happening ever again.
Chris Egg, a part-time driver who was forced to leave his home in Budds Lane, Romsey, when it was flooded in February, said: “We need a permanent solution like a sluice gate or some diversion method to stop them flooding again. It was only sandbags and manpower that stopped it last time.”
Chris and wife Caroline are currently living in rented accommodation while dealing with insurers over their house.
He added: “The road looks back to normal now but there is a massive clean-up going on because of all the sewage that washed up. It’s not as pleasant as things may look on the surface.”
On top of the money being shared out to councils today, Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Budget that another £200million will be provided for pothole repairs in 2014-15.
Meanwhile the Government has also announced grants of up to £5,000 are available to homeowners to protect their property against future floods, to be distributed through local councils.