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Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) released in response to a question in the House of Commons show that since the start of 2011/12 councils across the North have received on average 15 per cent less funding for road maintenance per head of population than those in the South.

This effectively means the North has missed out on more than £120m for road repairs.

Douglas Kell, director of the Civil Engineering Contractors’ Association in the North-East, said: “The truth is the North-East does not get a fair share of state investment on head count, although its needs are in some ways greater now.

The Government has said more money will be coming to the regions, including the North-East, but we have also been told not to expect any of it before 2015 – two years away.

In June the Local Government Association, which represents local councils, warned that more severe weather this winter could lead to a tipping point in many areas where already uneven local roads become so damaged they will have to close.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop said: “This is nothing more than naked highway robbery.”

A DfT spokeswoman said of the figures: “We donate allocate maintenance funding to local highway authorities based on population but on likely need, based on road length and likely bridge and lighting repairs.

“If an authority has a larger highway network to maintain they will receive a higher proportion of funding. We are reviewing the funding formula and will liaise with councils prior to any changes being brought in from 2015/16.”