A new report published last week (4 August) says proper maintenance of Scotland’s roads network is vital for economic prosperity and for people to get around safely.
The report follows hot on the heels of a call by Jerry Stewart, a director of Scotland’s biggest independent courier, Eagle Couriers, for the Scottish Government to sort out ‘the sorry state’ of the country’s roads.
The Audit Scotland report criticises roads authorities for failing to exploit the ‘significant benefits’ of sharing roads maintainence services, describing progress in developing this as ‘slow’ with ‘no clear plan or timetable to deliver it in practice’.
The report also says there is an urgent need for roads authorities to be more innovative, develop robust ways to compare relative efficiency, and engage better with road users.
Councils maintain most of Scotland’s roads network, and the proportion of these roads classed as being in acceptable condition has remained constant at around 63% over the four year period 2011/12 to 2014/15. However, councils’ spending on maintenance fell by 14% over the same period.
The report also says there is a ‘wide variation’ among councils, and expresses concern that current surveys do not always pick up damage to lower road layers.
With regard to motorways and key trunk routes which are maintained by Transport Scotland, spending fell by 4% between 2011/12 and 2014/15. The proportion in acceptable condition also fell from 90% to 87% over the same period.
The report says Transport Scotland spent £24m less on structural maintenance in 2014/15 than it considered necessary to maintain road condition at current levels.
The report follows previous editions in 2011 and 2013, and Audit Scotland claims the public ‘remain dissatisfied’ over the state of the country’s roads.
Douglas Sinclair, accounts commission chair, said: “The state of our roads is a major concern for the public. Surveys show that they remain dissatisfied, despite these concerns being flagged up in our two previous reports.
“Councils face increasing pressures and challenges but progress in developing a shared services approach for roads has been disappointingly slow.
“They can and should collaborate much more to secure better value for money.”