Thursday, April 28, 2016

Power over potholes returns to the Courthouse

A Highland Council press release:

The budget for Road Maintenance for 2016-17 is to be distributed between the eight Local Area Committees to enable greater local decision making in line with the Council’s localism agenda.

The budget for road maintenance contains four main and distinct activities. These are:
Revenue for Winter Maintenance
Revenue for Cyclic Maintenance, which includes pothole repairs, surface patching, road markings, traffic signs and verge cutting
Capital expenditure for early intervention to extend the life of the road surface
Capital expenditure for larger resurfacing and major bridge refurbishment works
The proportional split between areas for Winter Maintenance will be based on historical spend. The allocation for cyclic maintenance will be distributed between areas according to a formula based on weighted road mileage and population.

The Council will shortly be taking delivery of a new “Jet Patcher” for pot hole repairs and a programme for where and how this will be used will be developed.

Budget for safety barriers and flood risk management will be held centrally. Areas may be able to bid for funding of small schemes. The allocation of flood risk management will be managed by the Flood Risk Management Team.

The allocation to areas for structural road maintenance is based on the results of the annual Scottish Road Maintenance Condition Survey. The proportion reserved for structures such as bridges and retaining walls will be held centrally and distributed based on routine inspections. Distribution will be agreed by the Chief Structural Engineer in consultation with local area staff.

Overall revenue budget for road maintenance activities for 2016-17 has been set at £11.948 million.

The Council agreed, in December 2015, an additional capital allocation of £24.3 million over the next 9 years for roads, bridges and piers. This, when added to the £4.5 million in the Community Services budget for capital structural road maintenance, raises the annual capital allocation to £7.2 million for 2016-17.

Members of the Community Services Committee were asked to note the results of the 2015 Scottish Road Maintenance Survey at its meeting on 28 April 2016.

Across Scottish Local Authorities in 2015, the Road Condition Indicator (RCI) which ranges from best to worst condition of roads, places Highland road conditions at 39.1% has which is slightly above the Scottish average of 36.7%. This indicates roads which fall within needing further investigation (coded as Amber) and those roads which have deteriorated to a point where repairs are very likely to be required (coded as Red).

Over the last 5 years an additional 660km of the highland road network has fallen into the Red or Amber sectors. It is estimated independently that to prevent further deterioration would cost in the region of £16.25 million per annum.

Chair of the Community Services Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson said: “The additional capital of £24.5 million which will be invested in our roads, bridges and piers across the Highlands is a substantial investment which will significantly help towards maintaining our road network. Our roads are not the best in Scotland, nor are they the worst. There will never be enough money for everything we want to do. Every pound we can spend on improving our roads, bridges and buildings goes back into the Highland economy and helps to support jobs and growth and we will continue to look for ways of getting additional investment.

“We have over 7000km of non-trunk roads in the Highlands and our road infrastructure is vital to communities. Given the scale of our Highland road network and the impact of severe weather related damage and the increase in heavy articulated lorries, it will continue to be a huge demand on our limited resources. We will need to work with partners to develop new solutions and ways of working, including exploring shared resources, which can help us achieve best value for our Highland roads. There is already some excellent work being done by our officers with the Northern Roads Collaboration Forum to develop innovations and make savings.”

Cllr Allan Henderson has been elected as the first Chair of the Northern Roads Collaboration Forum in March 2016. The forum focuses on developing formal collaborative practices in road services, including areas such as the sharing of frontline resources, training, signage and harbours.


D.Ross said...

According to a new report Highland Council roads are deteriorating faster than anywhere else. About 40% of our roads are classed as "Red" & we need about £14million a year to be spent on them to just "tread water". We only have £7million a year to spend until 2025.

However in this article they state £7.2 million for this years budget to spend & £16.2million total required to repair the current problems.

Now Highland Council recently got a £315million "City deal", how about spending it on the roads, something we all actually need, tourists need, industry needs. Ever heard of infrastructure investment??

Anonymous said...

A complete waste of time the roads have deteriorated to such an extent that this sticking plaster approach may get some good press but further year on year decline will result in no real progress being made

Anonymous said...

Any money in there for compensation for the damage the potholes do to your car ? i've just paid out 380 quid for repairs to my car ,the mechanic recons it was pothole damage.

road runner said...

D.Ross (first comment above) is absolutely right.

It is very clear that the Highlands, with such a large area, such a high dependence on road transport, so many miles of highways, and difficult winter weather conditions, needs to spend serious money on infrastructure maintenance.

The Highland Council decision to devolve expenditure decisions to the Area Committee under the guise of localism is a devious tactic. It is largely a device to duck accountability. It is designed to ensure that public criticism is deflected from the Council itself and its roads-maintenance department, on to local committee members (our four Councillors) when the level or repairs is seen to be inadequate because of past neglect and insufficient current funding.

It's a dirty game, politics.

Anonymous said...

Our roads aren't too bad at all. Travel broadens the horizons!

Anonymous said...

the other factor is quite simply the decline of a decent public transport infrastructure (and planning for it!) since privatisation -
more bus routes cut, less trains running , yet we are told time and time again that the opposite is true - but look at the disaster of the new company running the inverness/nairn/forres/elgin/aberdeen trains with things actually getting worse despite the constant soundbites that there is XXX million invested.
when bus companies decide to cut a route, its usually dead and a public outcry means the council steps in to either fund the route or provide its own service...

little details also, like the lack of cycle racks at bus stops or cycle racks on the front of buses so i could ditch the car, cycle for the bus down the road and then cycle to work from the bus terminal - rather than walk along unpaved road to a bus stop and connect two different buses together making it a journey of 1h20mins when its 25 mins in a car...

like many aspects of this age we live in, its not just one big thing that will fix this (although a lot more cash would help) its a lot of little things also that have been chipped away over the years and are now past the point of no return (again without big cash sums)

this all leads to more cars and traffic

Anonymous said...

anon@9.54, another little detail - cycle storage on trains. I remember the days when you could just turn up and stick your bike in the guards van. Now you have to book about 3 decades in advance for 1/2 measly spaces!