Report investigates value of Scottish local network - estimated at £6bn a year


A project in Scotland involving key public sector bodies has outlined a framework for analysing the value of the local road network and investment and intervention programmes - including economic, social and environmental factors.

The report found: ‘Users spend £6.4bn per annum to use Scotland’s local roads network, at an indicative cost of £1.8bn. This points to a value to cost ratio of around 3.5 to 1 at a Scotland-wide level.'

However, the report's authors stressed that the 'absolute value is immeasurable', and advised against using these initial figures as a direct multiplier between the cost and the value.

For instance, if you spend less on maintenance, i.e. cost - but keep the value the same then it looks like you are improving your return on investment, which is ‘clearly inaccurate’, one author pointed out.

The Scottish Roads Research Board provided funding to the Improvement Service and SCOTS (the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland) to undertake the study, which was led by Community Models with support from Caledonian Economics and the Social Value Portal.

The proposed model for value judgement is based on a three tier system of utility, social and future value:

  • Level 3 (top of the pyramid) – future value: predictive and responsive to policy and future trends
  • Level 2 – social value: reflective and evidence-based drawing on wider non-roads specific datasets
  • Level 1 (bottom of the pyramid) – utility value: evidence-based using readily available attributable roads data

This provides a basis ‘for a comprehensive overview of current and projects value using a breadth of socio-economic data linking back to the key systems interdependence,’ the report states.

The report authors said: ‘[It is] relatively straight forward to identify basic utility value at this stage – at both national and local levels. This is based on what road users – personal, business and community – actually spend to use the roads (as a measure of their willingness to pay).

‘Estimated value is £6.4bn across Scotland per annum. There is a level of spend/cost required to generate this value based on levels of local authority spend on local roads and proxy value of the costs of the economic social and environmental impact of the network.

‘Together this spend/cost comes to around £1.8bn per annum. The absolute numbers and ratios are ‘lines in the sand’ rather than ends in themselves…they provide baselines against which forward scenarios can be modelled.’

The Phase 1 Research Report is set to be signed off by the Scottish Roads Research Board by the end of January, when it will be published on its website.

Derek Stewart, co-founder of Community Models and a former director at Amey, helped lead the project and gave delegates at Traffex Scotland an exclusive first look at the results.

Mr Stewart told Highways that his team had submitted a Phase 2 application for funding to test the model, particularly the level three future value element, in a small number of representative pilot sites across Scotland.

He added that for the second level of social value it was found that there is data to support analysis but it is not used much or consistently in modelling.

For the level three future value predictive analysis ‘we have a desk based version and we now want to test that’, he said.

‘We want to look at regional pilots to give us more confidence in the data and the process to build up a model that can be used on an ongoing basis.’

The report was completed through secondary desktop research based on existing literature and data, supplemented by primary research in terms of consultation, interviews and surveys.

A structured community council survey received 253 responses in total from across the breadth of Scottish geographies.

Headline findings

  1. Local roads fulfil a number of functions and purposes and this will continue
  2. They don’t exist in isolation - they supplement, complement and underpin
  3. Value takes a number of different forms and varies by geography and by stakeholder group
  4. Absolute value is immeasurable, relative value will vary
  5. Local roads make a significant contribution to supporting more vulnerable individuals and communities
  6. There are already modelling processes on which to build (traffic forecasting, STAG, inclusive growth, etc.) the majority of data is already captured/collected and used for other purposes.

Proposed way forward

Develop a consistent approach – a model – to assess value that:

  1. Reflects social economic and environmental value to communities as core investment considerations
  2. Draws on data and approaches already available to the wider public sector and provides scope for macro and micro level analysis
  3. Aligns with national government strategy on inclusive growth and other key outcomes
  4. Can be applied/adopted in a standard form across the sector and calibrated to meet regional local and sub-local needs and differences

Next steps

  • Build out form utility value to identify and test the social and future value components
  • Test and refine the theoretical model on the ground through more applied research (including ensuring it can be applied at national regional and local levels)
  • Establish a standardised approach with accompanying guidelines to ensure consistency and comparability
  • Demonstrate how the model works to embed local roads in wider strategic considerations
  • Explore potential for digital technology to support planners (on both commissioner and provider sides) to assess value moving forward
Highways jobs

Chief Executive

Competitive Salary
In this unique role, leading the UK’s first sub-national transport body, you’ll draw on your understanding of... Manchester/Leeds (flexible)
Recruiter: Transport for the North

Head of Enforcement & Safety

£67,164 - £75,695
You will have responsibility for operational delivery of key services across the Borough, including... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Head of Outbreak Control (12-month FTC)

£67,164 - £75,695
You will need to demonstrate specific experience in working with the general public, including customer care initiatives such as London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Head of Highways, Traffic and Parking

£67,164 - £75,695
As Head of Highways, Traffic and Parking, reporting into the Assistant Director for Highways and Environment, you will have responsibility for... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Assistant Director of Public Realm

£92,700 to £101,423
As Assistant Director of Public Realm you will provide the strategic direction for, and management of a range of services designed to ensure... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Senior Infrastructure Server Engineer (Senior Data Centre Engineer)

£41,952 - £48,663 per annum
The successful candidate will have a BSc in relevant discipline, or equivalent industry experience. Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Programme Officer (Transport)

£32,910 - £36,922
As a Senior Programme Officer for strategic transport, you will play a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of transport policy for... Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Senior Construction Team Leader.1347

£28,672 - £32,234 per annum
You will act as first line manager for the operational construction, depot & highways teams to ensure the best use of available resources to... Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Transport Planner

£26,025 - £38,616 depending on skills
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Sustainable Transport Lead

£39,000- £45,000 per annum
Do you have experience in climate action and community led projects? Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Publica

Highway Development Control Manager (Highways and Engineering)

£35,662 - £41-811 per annum
We are looking for an exceptional candidate who can work with internal and external clients to assess the transport and highways elements of... Calderdale, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Conservation Officer

£26,025 - £38,616 depending on skills
Do you have passion and enthusiasm for the historic built environment?  London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Project Manager - Waste Management

Up to £47389 per annum
Project Manager - Waste ManagementFixed Term, 24 monthsFull Time, 37 hours per weekUp to £47,389 per annumLocation
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Programme Manager - Waste Management

£51510 - £62842 per annum
Programme Manager - Waste ManagementPermanent, Full TimeUp to £62,842 per annumLocation
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Senior Planner (Policy)

£33,543 - £46,962
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Deputy Director - Neighbourhoods

c. £100k
This role will take the lead on a wide range of our public facing services... Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Bexley

Director, Environment and Waste

Attractive Remuneration Package      
As the biggest County Council in the country, there is a fantastic opportunity to make a big difference. Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

Corporate Director, Growth, Environment and Transport

Attractive Remuneration Package      
This is a great time to join Kent County Council.  Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

CPP Engineer x2

£19,698- £35,745
Wirral is home to vibrant, energetic and engaged communities, people who take real ownership of their local area and are passionate about... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Asset Manager

£38,705 (pro rata for part time)
We have a new role waiting for you to join us as an Asset Manager (Carriageways, Footways and Street Furniture). Suffolk
Recruiter: Suffolk County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Highways Heroes Special

View the latest issue

Latest Video