Senior figure calls for major shake-up on Scottish roads

Dominic Browne

A senior figure in the development of Scotland's roads future has called for dedicated budgets enshrined in statute and a reduction in the number of authorities.

Angus Brodie, programme manager of the Roads Collaboration Programme, which has supported efficiencies and developments in the management of Scottish roads in response to budget concerns, called on the sector to consider the need for a drastic shake-up.

Speaking at the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) conference this month, Mr Brodie also suggested that the devolved nation should consider breaking down the barriers between local and trunk roads in the pursuit of efficiencies.

There are currently 32 local roads authorities in Scotland together with Transport Scotland as the national roads authority and seven regional transport partnerships.

'We need to recognise that 40 bodies delivering transport functions across Scotland is not a sustainable model. The Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS) has gone public with that that’s their view.

'We will keep on encouraging statutory changes to roads governance, into a smaller number of units somewhere between one and 33, and that's all I am going to say, and possibly local and trunk road combined. There is a very strong case for that I believe. There is a lot of protectionism as well and the trunk. I think that is the only long-term solution.

On funding, Mr Brodie added: 'I think statutory change is needed to change budgets. I think it is unfair to ask elected members to make impossible decisions to put money into roads or social care – we are basically asking members to take money out of social care and I don’t think that’s fair. If we went down the statutory route funding routes would change and we would remove those difficulties.

He said the the centralisation and rationalisation of road management 'would allow authorities to make best use of shrinking resources provide resilience and bring a sharper focus to priorities'.

He added that the Roads Collaboration Programme was looking into a developing synergies around asset planning for local and trunk roads.

'They do it totally differently, using the same data and report in different ways. That can’t be right. We want to see what's good practice based on a common set of performance indicators, looking towards national outcomes for the road network.

The supply chain could also be supported by a move towards standardisation, Mr Brodie suggested.

'I was told last year there are 82 types of asphalt used in Scotland; surely that can’t be right. We need to do something about that the supply chain have been asking about that for a long time.'

Transport Network reported last year on efforts in Scotland to develop Baseline Unit Costs.

Using data sets from the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS) and the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) the research used median averages in areas such as treatment rates to establish ‘Baseline Unit Costs’ (BUCs) for highway services.

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