OVER the last few weeks there have been a number of letters in the Tele criticising the council’s performance on maintaining and improving our roads infrastructure.

While some of these letters appear to be politically motivated, I readily acknowledge we still have a way to go before our roads will be in the condition we want them to be in.

When I became leader of the council in 2007 I made it absolutely clear our number one political priority was investment in the school estate to bring all our schools up to a good standard. £270 million pounds later we are close to achieving that objective.

We also made investing in our leisure facilities a high priority and those of you who use them regularly will, I’m sure, acknowledge we now have some of the best facilities in Scotland.

It is fair to say that during our first term in office, from 2007 to 2012, the resources allocated to roads were barely sufficient to maintain the existing condition never mind secure a significant improvement.

In Labour’s 2012 election manifesto we made funding major improvements to our roads one of our five key pledges. We are now delivering on that pledge.

We were one of the first councils in Scotland to approve a comprehensive Roads Asset Management Plan (RAMP) in August 2012. This identified a need for investment of the order of £29m over the five year period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2018 to bring our roads infrastructure – carriageways, footways, lighting columns and structures such as bridges – up to a good standard. Despite real terms reductions in Scottish Government funding and an eight-year council tax freeze, we have committed this £29m to our roads network.

Since the implementation of the RAMP commenced in April 2013 we have spent around £10m on carriageways alone from an allocation of £19m. Another £1.2m has been spent on footways and bridges.

I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about this investment. However satisfied residents don’t tend to write to the Telegraph very often.

I appreciate that if our programme has not yet reached your street you maybe won’t be aware of the scale of the investment being made. Those of us who regularly drive around Inverclyde have seen the real difference it is making.

We are of course anxious that the programme does reach your street sooner rather than later. That is why a few weeks ago we approved additional investment of £1.4m in the current financial year, bringing total planned spend to £5.4m. This was possible due to good financial management and our Roads Service completing the original programme for the year on schedule and on budget.

As I said earlier, this investment is taking place against the backdrop of funding cuts and an eight-year council tax freeze.

A recent report from the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe) revealed that between 2008/09 and 2015/16 the Scottish Government cut funding to local government by six per cent in real terms (that is after allowing for the impact of inflation). Over the same period the Scottish Government’s own funding from the UK Government was cut by three per cent.

The SPICe report also revealed that the council tax freeze has cost the Scottish Government £2.5billion over the last eight years.

According to Audit Scotland, that level of funding could have wiped out the backlog of carriageway repairs across the entire Scottish roads network.

More and more people are now coming around to the view that the council tax freeze is unsustainable due to the impact it is having on jobs and services. Just last week SNP Councillors in Edinburgh agreed a four-year budget that assumes a council tax increase of three per cent in three of the four years.

An increase in council tax will be one of the options for closing Inverclyde’s budget gap you will be asked for your views on during the upcoming public consultation.