A call for county councillors to be given more money to address local highways issues gained backbench support.

Since 2010, every county councillor in Hertfordshire has been allowed £90,000 each year for small highways projects in their areas.

But at a meeting of the highways and environment cabinet panel on Wednesday, January 3, Liberal Democrat councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst called for that to be increased to £100,000.

The allowance – known as the ‘highways locality budget’ – can be used for projects such as road resurfacing, pavement drainage cleaning or traffic calming schemes.

The money is allocated by individual county councillors – in conjunction with highways professionals – based on local need.

But Cllr Giles-Medhurst told councillors the money no longer went as far as it used to.

Pointing to the £146 million in the county council’s reserves, he said it was time for the allowance to be increased – suggesting the addition of £10,000 to each councillor’s budget, at an overall cost of £780,000.

The idea was backed by a number of councillors – including Conservative councillor Michael Muir.

But executive member for highways and environment Cllr Phil Bibby said it was already a generous budget for local members, that took funds away from what could be spent centrally.

And he indicated that there were some who thought the allocation should be taken away.

Meanwhile vice chairman Cllr Eric Buckmaster said the existing level was “adequate”.

The level of the locality budget was discussed as members of the cabinet panel considered the county council’s budget plans for next year (2020/21).

Assistant director finance and business support Faisal Mir said that it was a “positive budget” for the highway and environment portfolio.

He pointed to the £1 million earmarked for maintenance of gullies and trees – and no ‘new policy choices’.

And he pointed to additional investment that had been put aside for maintenance of safety barriers, street lighting and traffic signals.

It also emerged that solar-powered street lights are among a number of measures highways teams at the county council are set to consider for the future.

Cllr Giles-Medhurst highlighted the installation of four of the environmentally-friendly lights – that do not need to be connected to the electricity network – at Leavesden Park.

And he said that, at a cost of just £8,000 each, they made environmental and financial sense.

Executive member for highways and environment Cllr Phil Bibby said it was one of a number of things the council was set to look at in future.