The long drive to tackle network inequality

17/04/2019

The 2019 Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) annual conference, which took place at the world-famous Belfry hotel and resort last week, asked: is the local road network open for business? The answer from a range of industry speakers was: only just.

Matthew Lugg OBE, president of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) and WSP head of profession for local government, opened the conference with a report on the initial survey findings of the CIHT review into the local highway network. As reported by Highways in April, they reveal a strong desire for reform and an almost unanimous agreement that local roads would benefit from the Highways England model of funding.

Annette Pass, head of innovation at Highways England, explained that having assured five-year investment meant that Highways England could not just focus on the basics of the strategic road network (operation, maintenance, renewal) but could also develop a future vision.

She outlined the Highways England vision of digital roads, where all vehicles are fully connected and conversant with the highways network but – controversially to a room of industry practitioners – she predicted a future where highway engineers are replaced by data scientists.

As for being open for business, Ms Pass pointed out that 78% of all journeys are made by road, whether strategic or local, meaning that the SRN must not been seen in isolation.

David Tucker, Federation of Small Business (FSB) transport policy chair, highlighted that in England the local network carries 61% of all journeys yet has an annual spend of only £4.3bn, compared with the rail spend of £9.4bn for carrying just 2% of journeys.

The strategic road network has a capital spend of £15bn for the period 2015 – 2021, compared with less than half of that – £7bn – for local roads. He argued that rather than being recognised as the crucial national asset for business that it is, the local network is ‘second class compared with the strategic road network’.

Mark King, head of street care and transport at South Gloucestershire Council and chair of the South West Highways Alliance, presented the benefits of collaboration for local highway authorities and how the sharing of innovation and best practice can help achieve more for less.

The Alliance consists of 15 county and unitary authorities – from Cornwall in the South to Gloucestershire in the West. A major area for collaboration is training. Local authorities are losing skills and have often stopped in-house training in order to save costs. Mr King said the alliance has provided access to a shared pool of resources and allowed the development of joint training schemes to help authorities ‘grow their own talent’.

Another example of collaboration is how the alliance is implementing the Permitting Scheme for Works on the Highway – charging for access to the road network.

Mr King explained that without the combined help of the alliance they would not have been able to develop and implement the scheme within the short timescale. The scheme has the added benefit of being common across the region and therefore is more user friendly to contactors and utilities.

He went on to highlight another major collaborative success: the HIRAM toolkit. This is an analytical computerised modelling tool to help engineers identify vulnerable high risk sites, provide a platform to collate repair costs and allow the measuring of the investment gain. Such has been the success of the tool that authorities beyond the south west, including Transport for Greater Manchester and the Eastern Highways Alliance, are buying into it.

Innovative collaboration is just one way that local authorities are trying to address the absence of the resources to allow long-term strategic planning; another way is the ongoing development of industry best practice. Kevin Maw of the Road Emulsion Association (REA), discussed the updating of the code of practice for the safe transfer of emulsion from tanker to sprayer. The code is being updated in collaboration with RSTA.

RSTA chief executive Mike Harper (pictured, right) summed up the conference: ‘There is a significant inequality between the SRN and the local network.

'While local authorities and their industry partners are doing what they can to collaborate and innovate, it is ultimately for the government to recognise the national importance of the local road network and ensure that it is open to business by providing the resources that will allow pro-active strategic long-term planning rather than reactive catch-up.

'The five-year funding settlement model shown to be so successful for the SRN, is urgently required for local roads.’

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Inside

  • Smart motorways' BCR problem
  • New lighting decision support tool

 

 

View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Highway Engineer - Reactive Maintenance

£35,354 - £40,506 incl. LWA, plus £963 car allowance
We make a difference to the environment we live in. Come and help us manage our highway infrastructure. Bracknell, Berkshire
Recruiter: Bracknell Forest Borough Council

Maintenance Manager

£43,857 to £47,782
We are currently looking for a strong candidate to take up the role of Maintenance Manager at Area 6 Boroughbridge. Boroughbridge, York
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Engineer Sustainable Development

£32,234 - £36,922 per annum
To help support this key area of work, we are looking for an enthusiastic, experienced and forward thinking Engineer to... Stafford, Staffordshire
Recruiter: Staffordshire County Council

Senior Engineer (Streetscene)

£40,632 - £45,594
We are looking for 2 Senior Engineers to join our team to help deliver effective Capital and Revenue investments programmes to... Hackney, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hackney London Borough Council

Neighbourhood Highway Officers - West and North

£28,672 per annum
We are seeking a recruit two Neighbourhood Highway Officers (NHO), to be based in Okehampton and Tiverton, Devon. Devon
Recruiter: Devon County Council

Warehouse Assistant/Driver

£20,903 - £24,491 per annum
The successful applicants will work as part of a team in a busy work environment to carry out warehouse and... Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Planning Policy Manager

£61.470 - £64.704
Be part of Greenwich's vision to successfully accommodate a high level of sustainable growth, which... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Refuse Driver (Rolling Advert - applications checked weekly)

£30.032 - £31.610
It is an exciting time in Street Services at the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Be part of a team who are... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Traffic Engineer

£32,301 - £37,491
We are currently looking for an experienced Traffic Engineer to join our Design & Engineering team.  London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hackney London Borough Council

Apprentice Civil Engineering Technician

£12,656.10
This opportunity is primarily based out of our West Offices in the heart of York. York, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of York Council

Traffic Enforcement Manager

£40,869 - £43,860
As part of a major service transformation, Haringey is seeking to recruit to a new number of new positions. Haringey, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Haringey London Borough Council

Refuse Driver

£30032 - £31610 per annum + (amount shown is salary plus allowances)
Refuse Driver (LGV Chargehand Driver)(starting total pay of £30,032 - this is made up of the base grade salary plus contractual overtime and allowance England, London, Woolwich
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Corporate Director (Environment, Communities & Leisure)

Up to £83,424 (pay award pending)
As one of our two Corporate Directors reporting to the Chief Executive to form our Senior Leadership Team your... Gedling, Nottingham
Recruiter: Gedling Borough Council

Senior Infrastructure Engineer

£45.834 - £56.141
This is a great role in a vibrant and growing team; we’re looking for people with significant experience in... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Parking Service Business Manager

£43,860 - £46,839
As part of a major service transformation, Haringey is seeking to recruit to a new number of new positions. Haringey, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Haringey London Borough Council

Roads Technician

£18,812 - £23,791
This is a great opportunity for you to join Lincolnshire County Council's Technical Services Partnership as... Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Roads Engineer

£25,991 - £35,745
We are looking for people to join one of our three Roads teams, made up of around 30 friendly and enthusiastic professionals. Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Senior Project Manager

Up to £50,823 per annum
The role of this post is to oversee the project management, development and implementation of the County Council’s Major Transport Projects.. Leicestershire
Recruiter: Leicestershire County Council

Programme and Change Delivery Manager (Spatial Planning and Urban Design)

£43,833 - £53,115 Depending on skills and experience
Are you a change delivery manager with expertise in England’s local government spatial planning and urban design sector? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Bridges Manager – Highways and Transportation

£49,320 to £57,376
You will be responsible for... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video