Sunak accused of ‘complete repetition’ of pothole announcement

The prime minister tried to focus on repairing Britain’s bad roads when he faced questions about whether he was out of touch when he visited Darlington on Friday.

“Today we are announcing more money for potholes,” he said as he was pictured inspecting a defect in the road during a visit to the north-east while campaigning for the Tories.

Rishi Sunak visits Darlington
Rishi Sunak with Darlington Council Leader Jonathan Dulston (far right), Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen (second from right) and Darlington MP Peter Gibson (far left) on Firth Moor during a visit to Darlington, County Durham (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Downing Street confirmed there was no new money other than the £200m in the Budget two weeks ago.

The Prime Minister also highlighted new regulations, due to come into force on Saturday, that will penalize utility companies for leaving the streets in poor condition.

Sunak said: “There will be more fines, more inspections, that will help too. We want to make sure it’s easy for people to get around.”

The “performance-based inspection regime” he was referring to was announced in May of last year.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh accused the government of “catching up after its own failures have left the UK’s roads collapsing”.

“In 2021, the Prime Minister promised to make potholes a thing of the past, but his decisions have left millions of them on our roads,” said the Labor MP.

“This is too little too late for communities across the country to pay the price for their broken promises.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets with staff and local party members at the Firthmoor Community Center during a visit to Darlington, County Durham.
Rishi Sunak meets local party members and staff at the Firthmoor Community Center during a visit to Darlington, County Durham (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Local government Lib Dem spokeswoman Helen Morgan said the ad “has more holes in it than Britain’s roads”.

“This is nothing new and just a complete rehash. The blunt truth is that the government has deprived councils of funds to fix the roads, and this latest sticky plaster is too little too late,” she said.

“Conservative-run rural councils have let their roads collapse, causing damage to cars across the country. Rishi Sunak should visit those areas to see the problem for himself.”

Sunak also faced questions over reports that his heated pool uses so much energy that the local power grid had to be upgraded.

Pressed by local broadcasters whether that puts him out of touch, the prime minister insisted he had taxed windfall profits from oil companies to ease energy bills.

“People can make their own decisions if that support is enough,” he added, describing the support provided by the government as “enormous”.

“I want people to feel better, I want to put more money in their pockets, we can only do that if we lower inflation.”

Last week, Mr Sunak published a summary of his tax return, showing that he earned around £4.8 million in the last three years.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer insisted that his promise for the May 4 election to freeze council tax bills if he were in power “is not hypothetical”.

The Labor leader has not pledged to freeze council taxes in the future if he can form a Labor government after the next general election, scheduled for next year.

The Conservatives said that meant the compromise was “not worth the paper it’s written on”, pointing out that Labor councils have raised their taxes in line with others.

Keir Starmer's visit to Plymouth
Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to the Burt’s Crisps factory in Plymouth, Devon (Matt Keeble/PA)

Standing by his promise, Sir Keir told broadcasters during a campaign visit to Plymouth that the Conservatives could go ahead with the policy to ease the cost-of-living crisis.

“Now, it’s not hypothetical, because the money we would use is the profits of the oil and gas companies, we would tax that, there’s £10bn in there,” he said.

“The government could, just as they stole the idea of ​​freezing the price of energy, they could steal this and we could move all this in the next few weeks.

“Because if the government said we would equalize Labor and freeze council tax for the next year, obviously we would vote yes. The money is available. And if the government were serious about the cost of living issue, they would take this Labor idea and carry it out.”


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