THE Government has announced a second wave of additional transport spending as a result of “the HS2 bonus”, with Rishi Sunak taking to the nation’s local radio stations to plug it and moving the cabinet meeting to Yorkshire to promote it.

It is a confusing announcement because Durham and North Yorkshire will get some new money – £72.8m and £37.9m over seven years – whereas the Tees Valley will not.

That’s because the Tees Valley got £978m in the first wave of announcements in October which mayor Ben Houchen has promised to spend in many ways.

But County Durham, as part of the North East combined authority, also got a share of £1.8bn in that first wave – you will undoubtedly remember the great and messy debate about whether or not the Leamside line from Ferryhill into Tyneside would be revived by it (the answer is that it might be, but only if the newly elected mayor decides to spend the money in that way).

Now we have a second wave called the Local Transport Fund which is to be spent on smaller initiatives, including, according to the Government, “improving roads by filling in potholes”.

The Government is right to ensure that the money saved by the scrapping of the western leg of HS2 does not just disappear back into Treasury coffers, but equally if just disappears into patching up potholes, there were will be no long term strategic benefit.

Potholes are a massive, and growing, problem. Fixing them has been a vexed issue – again you will remember the fantastic picture taken in Darlington last March of the PM, the Darlington MP and the council leader and the Tees Valley mayor all peering forlornly into one at the launch of a pothole initiative, which followed another pothole initiative in 2022.

Surely by now our councils should be equipped with an adequate annual budget to do routine maintenance and fill in potholes. They shouldn’t be relying on one-off windfalls from scrapped major infrastructure projects.