Scotland’s local roads not improving, report finds

21/05/2013
Highways Reporters

The condition of Scotland’s local roads has not significantly improved in the last two years, according to a report carried out by the Accounts Commission.

The Commission urged changes in 2011 to tackle road conditions and improve value for money in maintenance, but these recommendations have not led to any significant improvements.

The percentage of roads in acceptable condition has increased slightly from 66.1% in 2009/10 to 66.7% in 2011/12, the report found.

Despite roads maintenance spending being reduced from £492m in 2009/10 to about £400m in 2010/11, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

(Cosla) said councils continued to invest in roads.

In 2005, the level of roads classified as acceptable stood at 69.9%.

One of the recommendations from 2011 was for all councils to put a “roads asset management plan” in place, something that has now been achieved.

Other improvements such as joint tendering with other councils, re-organising roads departments and changing shift patterns have also been implemented.

However, the auditors say more work is needed to improve the quality and monitoring of the management plans, and that the pace of progress in improving the condition of roads was too slow.

Speaking to the BBC John Baillie, chairman of the Accounts Commission, said: "There is a lot still to do. A well-maintained roads network is essential for all of us to get around in our daily lives and for economic prosperity.

"Tighter budgets mean councils have to make tough choices across the board but this is about making better use of the resources they already have.

"There is potential for better sharing of skills and resources, more effective planning at national and local level and more use of benchmarking to learn from best practice elsewhere. We will continue to monitor developments in the future."

Councillor Stephen Hagan, Cosla's development, economy and sustainability spokesman, added: "There is no doubt councils have been actively addressing the general condition of roads across Scotland despite reduced budgets over the last few years.

"Councils recognise the importance of the local road network as a vital asset in the lives of local communities and for local businesses. For these reasons and many others, Scottish councils continue to invest in maintaining and improving the Scottish road network."
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