THE LEADER of North Yorkshire County Council has warned the Government the state of the county’s roads is reaching crisis point and £5m is needed to undertake urgent repairs.

North Yorkshire contains more than 6,000 miles of roads; the country's third largest road network.

But council leader John Weighell says a large proportion of minor roads – covering a distance of 5,000km – are in urgent need of repair and says the issue is “rapidly becoming a crisis”.

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An analysis prepared by the council’s highways officers show the maintenance backlog for the entire network is approximately £322m.

Even if this backlog is removed, the council estimates it still needs some £60m a year simply to maintain the highways in good condition.

He says the annual allocation from central Government of £28m falls far short of these figures.

The council has declared the state of the highway network a major priority and has allocated an extra £5m towards the repairs, despite facing severe cuts in its budget.

It is currently having to make drastic savings and reduce its spending by about a third and has already identified £94m worth of savings from its overall budget and is currently faced with having to save a further £74m.

Coun Weighell has now written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, appealing to him to at least match a £5m pot of money the council has set aside.

He hopes to raise the issue with Mr McLoughlin when he meets him in London next week.

"We are considering investing more of our reserves if you are prepared to invest with us,” he wrote in his letter.

“Insufficient funding for highway maintenance is not a problem unique to North Yorkshire, but I believe we feel the pain particularly badly.

"North Yorkshire is the biggest local authority in England by area and has the third largest road network. The topography of North Yorkshire means we are vulnerable to extreme weather.

"Our dispersed population and our rural economy make our minor roads particularly important.

"Added to this, the cars, HGVs and agricultural vehicles are getting heavier and larger and this has increased their impact on the condition of these minor roads.”