A TORY minister came to fill potholes in Leigh yesterday, aiming to highlight the Government’s commitment to fixing the nation’s roads.

The Journal has reported on the "vast" number of potholes around the area in recent months, which has been a concern for residents due to the damage they can cause to vehicles and the danger they can bring to pedestrians and cyclists.

With a growing number of potholes and road defects reported across the country, the government has been accused of overseeing a “pothole pandemic” because local councils have not been given enough money to maintain the highways.

This is why Esther McVey, Conservative MP for Tatton and the unofficial 'Minister for Common Sense' came to Leigh on Monday, March 25, complete with a hard hat and high-vis clothes to repair a pothole on Bengal Street with the help of roadworkers.

Conservative Leigh MP James Grundy was pictured observing from the sidelines.

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Leigh Journal: Ms McVey came to Leigh after national complaints about potholesMs McVey came to Leigh after national complaints about potholes (Image: PA)
Liverpool-born Ms McVey suggested that the lack of maintenance during lockdown and heavier electric cars were the problems causing potholes, and the Government had now committed the cash to fill the holes.

Ms McVey, whose official cabinet title is the Minister without Portfolio, said: “It has to be one of the biggest issues, I think, facing the public, I just wanted to make sure we’re getting the potholes filled.

“There might be a number of reasons for it, for lots of people during lockdown, lots of maintenance wasn’t done.

“So, they could be behind on their schedule, so really, it’s time to get going, fill in those potholes, resurface those roads.

“The Government has handed over a significant amount of money, extra money, £8.3 billion pounds of extra money, the biggest ever funding increase for road surfacing and potholes.”

Leigh Journal: The road infrastrucure money has come after Rishi Sunak axed the northern HS2 plansThe road infrastrucure money has come after Rishi Sunak axed the northern HS2 plans (Image: PA)
This influx in cash is coming as part of money saved from the axing of the high-speed rail link HS2 to the north.

Ms McVey denied this meant while the south got high-speed rail the north got more tarmac, and said that cash had been poured into projects in the north including the Liverpool freeport and Manchester Metrolink transport system.

Nevertheless, some have criticised that the government's 'Network North' plan included schemes already underway or where funding was expected, as well as previously paused or cancelled plans.

Ohers criticised that some of this 'Network North' funding will be spent on areas roads and transport infrastructure in the south.

Leigh Journal: James Grundy MP was pictured watching on the sidelinesJames Grundy MP was pictured watching on the sidelines (Image: PA)
Ms McVey added: “No, can I tell you, I was somebody, as were many people in the north, who didn’t agree with HS2 because it was sucking all of the money and life out of rail projects and transport projects in the north.

“This budget ballooned from 37 billion for HS2 up to 180 billion for HS2. So many of us thought, ‘Stop it. Give the money to the north to spend it how they see fit.

“The money is there; £150 million came out last year, another £150 million is coming out in April, so it was, ‘let’s get filing those potholes’ and let’s make sure we’ve done those for the public.”

Ms McVey had also supported the then chancellor George Osborne, when he launched the Pothole Fund, a scheme to fill potholes in 2014.

She added: “To be fair that shows how important this is to me, that I have always said, ‘Let’s get the roads right’.

“More people travel on the roads than anything else.

“This is an ongoing maintenance and what we are seeing now is the biggest investment ever on road resurfacing.

“And what I want to see, so that we are supporting the public, the driving public, the motorist, to make sure that money isn’t sat on.”