Road Maintenance budgets to be devolved to Local Area Committees
28th April 2016
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.
Wick councillor, Bill Fernie chairman of the Resources committee and budget leader of Highland council said, "The independent administration is taking forward the localism agenda that many people have been asking for in recent years. While there is a general reduction in the budgets for all councils in Scotland we recognise that one of the top priorities for people is decision making at local level and we are making a start with this allocation of money. the restructuring of the council's capital budget over the next 9 years seeks to recognise the need to invest more than was previously being put in. We still have a long way to go to try and stop the deterioration getting worse but this s step in the right direction."