SOMERSET County Council only has four months to spend millions of pounds from central government on road repairs.

The Department for Transport (DfT) granted the council around £9.8m in mid-November to fix potholes and carry out maintenance work on its roads following the budget in late-October.

The government has confirmed all of this money will have to be spent by the end of this financial year – though it will not withdraw any funding that cannot be spent by the end of March 2019.

The council has said it is still finalising proposals for how and where in the county the money will be spent.

A DfT spokesman said: “The £420m investment announced in the budget builds upon the existing funding of just over £6bn between 2015 and 2021 that we are allocating to highway authorities in England, outside London.

“This funding also includes £296m as part of a pothole action fund being made available from 2016 to 2021.

“We expect this significant funding, which is for local highways maintenance, to be used for the repair of roads (including potholes), bridges and for the maintenance of local highways infrastructure generally, by the end of March 2019.

“It is for the authorities to decide how to spend the money to meet their local needs and priorities. The funding is for maintenance and we have already made payments to councils of their share of funding so that urgent maintenance works can be undertaken, to ensure our roads are in good shape for the forthcoming winter and beyond.”

The DfT has also clarified that the funding or any part therein will not be withdrawn if the council cannot spend it in time.

The spokesman added: “We will not be taking back the funding, but we would expect the council where possible to use this funding in the financial year it has been provided.”

The council said that it was “confident” it could spend the entirety of the one-off funding in such a short space of time.

A spokesman said: “We have repeatedly called for a more sustainable long-term model for funding highways which would enable us to plan ahead and programme our works more effectively. Nonetheless, we still welcome this one-off pot of money and are confident it will be spent in time.

“We’re working on the exact details of where it will be targeted to achieve the best value for money, but it is likely to include a range of works from resurfacing and repairs to roads, bridges and other highway assets to investing in rights of way.”

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