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CECA: £66M for roads will not 'overwhelm the industry'

£66M announced for road maintenance yesterday is not enough say the Civil Engineering Contractors' Association, and proposed a series of measures they say would help contractors.

The £66M, announced with great fanfare by the Department for Transport yesterday pledges £32M for the year beginning in April, and remainder in 2010, to maintain detrunked roads.

While CECA wecomed the spending, CECA Director Rosemary Beales said: "All additional spending on infrastructure is welcome at a time when workload across the industry is sharply down, but £66m, across two years, with only £32m available from April 2009, is not going overwhelm the industry's resources.

"CECA has been calling for work to be brought forward to get the industry moving in 2009. Local roads' maintenance offers a good way of getting 'pounds in the ground' quickly. However, if the money is there it must be spent quickly to have the most positive impact at a time when workload is seriously suffering."

CECA went on to say that additional funding for local authorities should be made available to SME contractors where possible.

"If this additional funding is going to help those contractors who are struggling most during the downturn, local authorities should procure the work in way that does not preclude smaller contractors. If this money is to be spent through frameworks, it would helpful if there were at some that bundled contracts of lower value together to enable SME contractors to compete."

They also called for prompt payments from local authorities, to help business vashflow.

"Clients of all kinds should make a commitment to do what they can to help maintain a healthy construction industry. With central government and regional development agencies committed to paying suppliers within 10 days, it is time for local authorities to step up and pay contractors within 10 days. This is additional money and 10 day payment should be made to help contractors maintain cash flow at a difficult time for the industry."

Speaking about yesterday's £66M announcement, Transport Minister Paul Clark said: "High quality local road networks are vital to communities; connecting people with work, shops, services, families and friends.

"This additional funding will allow local authorities to carry out improvements to important local highways bringing benefits to all who use the roads."

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