The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Highway Maintenance has called for urgent action to stop local roads deteriorating.
At a recent reception to launch a report on local road condition, Christopher Chope OBE MP, the chairman of the group, called for local authority asset management plans to be made mandatory as part of urgent action to prevent local roads from falling into further disrepair.
The report recommends:
– Getting local roads into a satisfactory steady state for planned preventative maintenance as soon as possible
– Improving borrowing facilities to allow councils to prevent roads deteriorating further before additional maintenance funding promised by government for the 6-years starting in 2015
– Making asset management plans mandatory in return for access to central government funds for road maintenance.
– Allow further devolution of highways funding decisions, by encouraging decisions on how local authorities can spend central funding allocated for capital outlay to be made locally
– Optimising maintenance schedules across local and national strategic road networks, to minimise disruption to road users and the associated costs.
The Group aims to foster understanding and awareness of the fundamental importance of the highway network. Deterioration in condition of the local road network has been the focus of numerous meetings.
Chope said: “Everyone is aware of the poor condition of our roads, not least through feedback from our own constituents. Having devoted numerous meetings to the topic and discussed it with various expert guests, we have reached the conclusion that there is only one question left to ask: why isn’t more being done to improve the situation?”
To clarify the problem and solution, the report: Managing a valuable asset: improving local road condition draws on several expert reports on the subject published over recent years.
These include the Audit Commission’s final report (in 2011) Going the Distance: Achieving better value for money in road maintenance.
“The Audit Commission produced an excellent set of recommendations in 2011 yet the situation has not improved,” adds Chope. “The poor condition of our local roads is not just a safety issue. Its impact on our environment and social well-being affects every one of us, as does the economic impact both for taxpayers generally and local business economies.
“The group is hoping to take this forward with the Robert Goodwill, the Minister now responsible for load roads, in the near future.”
The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) has welcomed the report. Chief executive Howard Robinson said: “This ‘prevention rather than cure’ approach is far more cost effective than expensive reactive ‘patch-and-mend’. It is an approach that we advocate as being the best way to maintain the road network.”