Conservative councillor Philip Robinson – who represents Mitcheldean on Gloucestershire County Council and is responsible for education, skills and bus transport – says the condition of highways in Herefordshire is a “standing joke” among his neighbours.
He says the roads are so bad that driving across the county border from Mitcheldean that “you certainly need your shock absorbers”.
Cllr Robinson made the comments while councillors debated a motion to declare a roads emergency over the dire state of the roads in Gloucestershire on June 28.
He said many people in Mitcheldean have been quick to tell him how pleased they are about the resurfacing of Carisbrook Road and Ross Road.
But he said residents complain of the appalling state of the roads just over the border in Herefordshire.
“It’s a standing joke among my neighbours. The border with Herefordshire is just a few hundred yards from where I live.
“Driving along the Gloucestershire road which then crosses the county border is not something you easily forget. You certainly need your shock absorbers.”
He said the roads are so bad in Herefordshire because the Tories lost control of the authority in 2019 to an Independent and Green alliance and the residents have paid the price ever since.
“One of the first things the administration did was cut back on the highway budget.
“In fact, it’s reassuring that the voters of Herefordshire have realised what they lost four years ago and have returned the Conservatives as the largest party .”
He said he very much expects the neighbouring county’s roads to start improving thanks to the new Conservative-led cabinet there.
Labour councillor Graham Morgan (Labour, Cinderford) said Cllr Robinson’s comments were nonsense.
“I do travel into Herefordshire and Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire’s roads are no different, to be honest with you.
“None of it. Not a bit different. So it’s nonsense.”
Herefordshire Council’s former transport and infrastructure chief John Harrington, who lost his seat in the last elections, said Cllr Robinson “wants to get a bit more educated before he opens his mouth”.
He said the biggest change to the revenue and maintenance budget of Herefordshire Council happened as a result of austerity under the Conservatives in 2013.
“Unfortunately, the councillor is misinformed. I suggest he looks at local government funding, particularly revenue support funding for rural counties like Herefordshire,” he said.
“The stark reality is with such a severe reduction in money and such a big county in terms of the amount of roads we have per head of population, you cannot do the work with one third of the money.
“If he’s got any genius ideas of how to do it better then he should put them in writing because we’d love to look at them instead of mouthing off in a council meeting to absolve himself from responsibility.
“One of the provisos for Balfour Beatty winning the contract over Amey was having to agree to those cuts. In that year the budget came down from around £15 million on the public realm in 2011 and it came down to £9 million in 2013.
“That was reduced again to about £6 million and all of that was done under Conservative Party watch. I don’t blame my Conservative colleagues because they had no choice but I do blame our MPs who have not had the scrutiny they deserve on this.”
Herefordshire Council has also been approached for comment.