Scottish roads authority The Highland Council is forecasting an overspend of £2m in its winter maintenance budget after severe weather at weekends and bank holidays pushed up its labour costs.
The authority said ‘a combination of the weather conditions experienced and the timing of the most severe episodes is causing the pressure on the budget’.
It said some of the worst weather conditions fell over weekends and the Christmas bank holiday periods, which resulted in more overtime being required. There has also been increased use of salt.
The £2m overspend contributes to an overall £3.6m projected overspend for the council as a whole.
Cllr Alister Mackinnon, chair of the corporate resources committee, agreed to approach the Scottish Government again to make the case for additional funding for the area.
He said: ‘The Highlands cover a third of Scotland and we have nearly 7,000km of regional roadways and 1,600km of footpaths, including some of the highest and most exposed routes in the UK.
‘This is simply not recognised in our funding allocations from the Scottish Government. As a council, we have protected winter maintenance as far as we possibly can over the past two years, however, there have been very challenging conditions this winter for keeping roads and footpaths clear of snow and ice and protecting vital connections and lifeline routes between remote communities.’
Cllr Allan Henderson, chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, added: ‘Another significant challenge for us now is the effect of the weather has had on our road conditions with the formation and worsening of pot holes, as well as surfaces literally crumbling.
‘Whilst we have also protected our roads maintenance budget, the available revenue and the reduction in available capital funds will mean that our capacity to tackle the vast amount of repairs required across the region, will be extremely diluted when we urgently need to be doing total reinstatement.’
The 5th Annual Cold Comfort Scotland winter maintenance conference and exhibition takes place on 26th April at the Hilton Dunblane Hydro. Take advantage of the Early Bird Discount by registering today.