MP calls for changes to highways funding formula

04/11/2020
Dominic Browne

A Conservative MP has called for reforms to the maintenance funding formula for highway authorities in England to take into account road condition, traffic volumes and the council's own contributions.

Jonathan Gullis (pictured), MP Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove & Talke, argued that the way the Department for Transport (DfT) calculates the current block maintenance grant is unfair on urban authorities with major A roads.

'Local authorities produce an annual report on the condition of principal A roads and the volume of traffic. I suggest it is not unreasonable to ask that a revised formula or bolt-on formula should take these reports into account,' he said.

'I think funding calculations should show due regard for road type with principal A roads attracting a premium in some way related to their condition and traffic incidents also taken into account.

'There would need to be safeguarding against false reporting of road conditions. I also think it would be useful to include a match funding element for cities like Stoke-on-Trent that put precious resources into roads despite a local council tax and low council tax base.'

The capital funding from the DfT under the current system sees 84.2% of the cash allocated to roads, based on the length in each local highway authority.

The remaining funds account for the maintenance of bridges with a span of 1.5 metres or more, and the lighting columns in each authority.

'Areas with long roads and little traffic benefit disproportionately from this formula while urbanised authorities with heavy traffic and A roads miss out,' Mr Gullis said.

The Conservative is one of the new batch of Tory MPs who won in Labour's traditional 'red wall' seats on the Midlands and North. He is battling for more funding in an area key to the Government's 'levelling up' agenda.

'When I look at Burslem - the mother town of Stoke-on-Trent, it has the most closed high street shops of any town in the UK. If we improve our pavements it isn’t just about safety it is about making a statement to the community that they are no longer going to be left behind.'

In a Westminster Hall debate he organised this week, Mr Gullis cited research conducted by DfT 2018, which found A roads under local authority control made up 10% of road length but carried 31% of traffic.

Minor roads (B,C and unclassified) made up 88% of road length and carried 34% and the remaining 35% of traffic is carried on the trunk roads.

'I want to see new considerations introduced to the formula that would top-up cities like Stoke-on-Trent that lack the mileage in minor roads,' Mr Gully said.

In the debate, transport minster Rachel Maclean defended the current system but gave some hope to the Stoke MP suggesting that following the outcome of the Spending Review on 25 November, the DfT might review its funding system

She said: 'Any funding formula could be controversial but the view we have at the moment is the funding formula we have is the most fair, equitable and consistent for all local authorities.

'As we get further clarity on the outcome of the Spending Review, the department may decide to look at whether that funding approach is still the best option or whether we should continue specific aspects, such as the Incentive Element or the Challenge Fund or whether we look at other ways to effectively target funding including formula funding.'

She added: 'The formula does not provide weighting based on the condition of the road as this might create an incentive to selectively maintain the road network rather than follow asset management principles. And basing funding on traffic flow might create an incentive to concentrate traffic on areas of the network rather than encourage optimum flow.'

However, Ms Maclean argued that the funding effectively does take into account the road type as principal roads, which generally carry more traffic, as they account for 9% of all roads in England but recieve 27.47% of cash] 'which is approx thre times the amount of allocated on road length alone'.

Meanwhile, 'an approximately 55% of funding goes towards B, C and U roads which make up 88% of all roads in England' she added. 

Highways jobs

Specialist Refuse Loader

£19,312 - £19,698
Specialist Refuse Loader Stakeford, Choppington
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Assistant Director Environment

£95,438
We are looking for a strategic and resilient leader to become our next Assistant Director of Environment here in Doncaster. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Doncaster Council

Project Engineer – Scarborough or Whitby Area Office

£24,982 to £35,745
We have an exciting Project Engineer opportunity in our Scarborough or Whitby Highways Operational office. Scarborough, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Ice Rink Manager

£29,724 - £32,757
We are looking for a friendly and approachable person to join our management team, who can... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Officers

£25.137 - £26.520
Following a redesign of the service, we are now looking to appoint a number of exceptional candidates as Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Officers. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Supervisors

£30.585 - £31.557
Following a redesign of the service, we are now looking to appoint two experienced candidates as Safer Spaces Digital Evidence Supervisors. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Environment Improvement Officer

£24,982 - £27,041 per annum
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Assistant Director - Capital Projects, Building Services, Highways and Transport

£77,862 to £93,434 per annum
You will lead a diverse range of services and will be responsible for the delivery of an ambitious and varied Capital Programme of... Darlington, Durham
Recruiter: Darlington Borough Council

Senior Assistant Engineer (Network Management)

£32,234 to £34,728
There are 2 roles available and each role will be pivotal to the Council in delivering statutory duties which fall... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Team Leader (Network Development)

£37,890 to £40,876
Wirral is home to vibrant, energetic and engaged communities, people who... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Assistant Project Engineer

£27,741 - £29,577 per annum
Do you have a passion for civil engineering and construction? Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Clerk of Works [JE1119]

£30,451 – £34,728
We are looking for a Clerk of Works to join our expanding team, supporting the Senior Engineers to deliver on... Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recruiter: Milton Keynes Council

CPP Engineer

£19,698 to £35,745
We have developed a career progression pathway with four stages with a well-defined framework for... Cheshire
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Senior HSEQ Advisor

£35,745
An exciting opportunity has arisen to join North Yorkshire County Council's Shared Health and Safety Service to... North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Service Change Officer - Street Scene

Competitive Salary
The Service Change Team supports Street Scene in improving and delivering high quality services to... Colindale, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Barnet London Borough Council

Information and Monitoring Officer

£26,025 - £38,616 per annum depending on skills
Would you like a role in shaping the planning policies of Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Officer - Parking

£35,745 - £40,876 per annum
As a Senior Parking Officer (Parking Enforcement) you will be responsible for managing parking contracts relating to the issue of... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Senior Traffic Engineer

£39,880 - £42,821 per annum
This is an exciting opportunity for someone with excellent experience in Traffic Management and Engineering, or related discipline, to... Pembroke, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
Recruiter: Pembrokeshire County Council

Principal Highway Development Management Officer

£32,910
We seek an enthusiastic and experienced individual to join our small and busy team dealing with all aspects of highway development management. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Graduate Bridge Engineer

£22,183 to £25,481 per annum
We are happy to consider all applicants at degree level as well as HND (level 5) higher apprentices. Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

 

Highways England takes on tunnels

Also inside:

  • Legal analysis: What the Brexit trade agreement means for you
  • Maintenance: The heavy-duty kit making light work
View the latest issue

Latest Video