Councillors are protesting their budget for repairing roads and fixing footpaths being slashed by nearly 80 per cent in the “strongest possible terms”.

Epsom and Ewell Local Committee wrote to Conservative cabinet member for highways Colin Kemp this week to oppose their highways budget by 78 per cent.

Surrey County Council’s decision to cut Epsom and Ewell Local Committee’s highways budget was made “without consultation… or scrutiny”, councillors wrote in the letter seen by the Epsom Guardian.

The cut – which the councillors described as “a matter of political choice”, rather than an inevitability – also means plans to replace guardrails in Ruxley Lane and help heal trees in Highfield Drive have had to be abandoned, the committee wrote.

From April: Surrey County Council to slash highways budget for Epsom and Ewell by nearly 80 per cent, leaked emails reveal

Councillor Colin Kemp, cabinet member for highways said a portion of the nearly £90million the county council plans to spend on Surrey’s highways this year would be earmarked for local repairs.

In 2016/17 Epsom and Ewell’s Local Committee, which makes decisions on a range of local issues including road maintenance and funding for community groups, received £355,433 from Surrey County Council, but that is set to tumble to £77,273 – a cut of about 78 per cent.

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The government has cut the council’s annual grant by £170million since 2010, while demand for adult social care, learning disabilities and children’s services is rising.

The raiding of Epsom and Ewell’s highways budget could mean there is only money for safety defects, according to Residents’ Association Councillor Eber Kington, who sits on the Local Committee.

From March 2013: Roadworks begin to fill 22 Epsom High Street potholes

Committee chair John Beckett this month told the Epsom Guardian the cuts were unnecessary and would impact on councillors’ ability to carry out their duties.

He suggested that savings could instead be made from the council’s agency staff expenditure, spending on empty beds in care homes and councillor allowances.

“Ninety five per cent of the issues I deal with as a councillor are pavement- or parking-related,” Cllr Beckett explained.

“It leaves us in a very difficult position to deal with residents’ concerns and local issues.”

From March 2017: Surrey County Council plans to cut millions of pounds from frontline services in face of Conservative austerity

From July 2016: Councillor criticises Surrey County Council's £13 million agency staff bill and lack of guiding policy

From Deember 2016: Surrey County Council forced to dip into 'largest ever use of reserves' to address £15 million overspend

Colin Kemp, Surrey cabinet member for highways, said: “We face some very tough decisions across all services because we need to save more than £100million this year in order to meet the rising demand in areas like children’s and adult social care and school places.

“Despite this, we are still spending just under £90 million on our highways networks this year and have earmarked a portion of this to carry out local repair works in each area on top of the horizon schemes to resurface hundreds of miles of roads and footpaths across the county.

“We are also giving all members a chance to review the spending done in their area and make suggestions based on their local knowledge in the autumn local committee meetings.”

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