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'Class war' row over pothole-ridden roads

PUBLISHED: 16:49 22 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:12 14 October 2010

JOHN GILBERT: 'Roads are in dire need of repair'

JOHN GILBERT: 'Roads are in dire need of repair'

A ROW has broken out over Islington's pothole-ridden roads – with the new Labour council being accused of 'playing class war' with urgent street repairs. Last winter one of the coldest snaps for 30 years left roads across the borough ravaged with cracks a

A ROW has broken out over Islington's pothole-ridden roads - with the new Labour council being accused of "playing class war" with urgent street repairs.

Last winter one of the coldest snaps for 30 years left roads across the borough ravaged with cracks and holes as heavy rain and snow froze, expanded and thawed in the tarmac.

In February the previous Liberal Democrat council announced an emergency £1million "pothole repair fund".

The sum was matched with another £1million set aside by Labour when they seized control of the Town Hall in May's local elections.

But as another winter approaches, the two parties are at loggerheads over why the pothole fund has sat untouched since May - with Labour vowing to prioritise repairs in the "working class" areas of Islington they claim were neglected by the Lib-Dems.

Councillor John Gilbert, the opposition Lib-Dem finance spokesman, said: "It's bad enough that Labour councillors want to play class war with potholes - their idea to only repair roads in 'working class areas' is unworkable and unfair.

"But now we find that despite the great fanfare, Labour councillors have spent exactly zero extra on potholes since the elections in May. No part of the borough has benefited from this funding, never mind working class areas.

"Liberal Democrats allocated an extra £1milliion in their budget in February to mend potholes in Islington. Labour councillors made a great show when they came to power of doubling it but they have just sat on the money."

He added: "This is the worst kind of gesture politics from Labour when so many local roads are in dire need of repair."

But Councillor Paul Smith, Islington Council's Labour environment chief, said the emergency repair fund will be spent "in the second half of the current financial year", which ends next April.

He said: "I'm very pleased the Lib Dems want to highlight that we're spending more on roads. We've made it a priority and the reason we've added money was because the amount they left us was nowhere near what was needed to do the work."

Councillor Smith defended Labour's policy of prioritising repairs, adding: "The Lib-Dems looked after the wealthier parts of the borough. If you drive down North Road in Holloway it's one of the worst places in the borough. You can see around places like Highbury that the work there got done. We're not ignoring anyone else, but we have to look at where it's most needed.


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