Council leader Iain Malcolm says the authority deserved a “pat on the back” for carrying out systematic improvements to borough roads and footpaths, despite the £90m less it has had to spend since May 2010.
Spending includes £1.2m a year on potholes, gully cleaning and winter maintenance – roughly £67,000 for each borough ward.
Mike Conlon, the council’s head of corporate and commercial development, said: “There was a technical assessment of all the footpaths.
“From that, they put them into what are 43 priority areas. Rather than do isolated parts of estates, we decided to club them together and rank them in what we considered to be in the worst condition.
“The other wards will get ‘flags to flexible’ eventually.”
The priority areas up for ‘flags to flexible’ funding in the next financial year are Primrose in Jarrow, and Whiteleas and Harton in South Shields.