“In his Spring Budget Philip Hammond, has failed to address the decades of under-investment in road maintenance,” said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). “His budget has no recognition that a well- maintained and efficient local road network supports the national economy. Instead we have a local road network that is increasingly Third World.”
RSTA has renewed its support of the calls by the Local Government Association to address the decades of under-investment in the local road network by injecting a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance. The additional funding could be found by investing just 2p per litre of the existing fuel duty without any need to increase fuel duty rates.
The Chancellor announced £690m funding competition for local authorities to tackle congestion and to get local transport networks moving. “Some highway authorities have seen a 50% reduction in their road maintenance budgets. It is a pity that they will have to spend precious resources on competing for funding,” said Robinson.
Although the Department for Transport did announce in January 2017 funding of £1.2 billion for English local roads for the period 2017-18. That does not address the staggering £12 billion necessary to address the current backlog of repairs and potholes and bring the road network up to an acceptable standard.
The £1.2 billion funding includes £210 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund as announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, £801 million Local Highways Maintenance Funding – Needs Element, £70 million from the Pothole Action fund, £75 million from the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund where local highway authorities have to compete for funding and a further £75 million from the Highways Maintenance Incentive Element which requires completion of a self-assessment questionnaire ‘in order to reward those who demonstrate they truly understand the value of their asset’.
“It is disappointing that the Chancellor fails to appreciate the social and economic benefits of a well-maintained local road network,” said Robinson. “We note that that from 1 April 2017 vehicle excise duty rates for cars, vans and motorcycles registered before April 2017 will increase by Retail Prices Index (RPI) while VED for HGVs and the Road User Levy rates will be frozen. We call upon the Chancellor to consider channelling the funds from the VED rate increase towards road maintenance.”
CSCS, under the direction of the Construction Leadership Council, will be removing the Industry Accreditation “IA” (AKA Grandfather Rights) category for CSCS cards.
This route has been closed to new operatives since 2010 but those historically holding their CSCS cards with IA have been able to renew as normal.
This route will be closing and the card holder will need to achieve the appropriate qualification for their role.
There is no confirmed date for this and so for now those holding CSCS cards through IA will be able to renew, but need to be aware that this will change in the near future.
Further information can be found at https://www.cscs.uk.com/news/industry-accreditation/
The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) has set-up a parliamentary petition urging the government to invest an additional 2p per litre of the existing fuel duty to fix the plague of potholes afflicting the local road network.
The petition may be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/183637
Decades of under investment in local road maintenance has resulted in a pothole bill of £12 billion. Despite this, lack of funding means that highway authorities are having to reduce their road maintenance budgets. Investing just 2p per litre of the existing fuel duty would provide an extra £1 billion per year to address this.
“A further £1 billion annual investment would certainly help local authorities tackle the damage done by under-investment by successive governments,” argued Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive. “We urge all drivers to sign the petition so that Parliament will have to debate the issue of our potholed, deteriorating roads.” 100,000 signatures are required before the petition can be considered by Parliament.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has failed to address the fundamental issue facing the UK’s transport infrastructure – there is little point in making significant investments in headline projects if the roads that connect them are potholed and crumbling away.
“Unfortunately, the Chancellor has today has shown the same lack of understanding as his predecessors. The £1.1 billion announced in today’s Autumn Statement for local transport networks will do little to address the decades of underinvestment in load road maintenance which has resulted in a £12 billion backlog of pothole repairs”, said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Roads Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).
He continued: “The Chancellor makes much of the need to invest in infrastructure to prove that Britain is open for business. Yet over 90 per cent of our traffic is carried by a local road network that is simply not up to scratch. He has failed to understand that the local road network is the essential link to headline projects such as the Cambridge to Oxford expressway.
Investment in infrastructure may be summed up by the idiom ‘learn to walk before you run’. Invest in fundamental and essential road maintenance before you announce grand projects. Or do both.”
“At last a joined-up approach to our road network”, was the response from the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) welcoming the publication of the Rees Jeffrey’s Report “A Major Road Network for England”.
The report calls for the recognition of an 8,000 mile Major Road Network (MRN) that includes the 4,200 miles of the Strategic Road Network (SRN) of motorways and trunk roads run by Highways England and a further 3,800 miles of strategic local authority controlled A roads. Together they represent 4 per cent of England’s roads that carry 43 per cent of its traffic.
Given the strategic importance of the MRN, the report believes that there should be equal recognition between the SRN and local authority A roads. Both should have the same planning and funding certainty. Currently, the government has committed a £15 billion five year plan of investment in the SRN. Local authorities who are responsible for 98% of England’s roads have no such certainty. They have had to cut road maintenance as part of the government’s austerity programme and face complex capital funding arrangements without any certainty of five-year commitments. The result is a £12 billion back log of potholes and essential repairs.
“Central government seems to be unable to understand that the local road network is the essential link to the strategic road network. The establishment of a properly programmed and funded major road network is the joined up approach that our road network needs”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive.
Robinson welcomed the calls for funding from the National Road Fund to be made available for both strategic roads and local roads and for greater collaboration between Highways England and local authorities via initiatives such as sub-national transport bodies.
“A well-maintained national and regional road network that has a committed programme of investment is essential for the country’s economic and social well-being. The report from Rees Jeffrey’s offers a cohesive alternative to the mismatched funding between the SRN and strategically important A roads”, said Robinson.
A new survey from the RAC has found that the number of cars damaged by potholes has more than doubled over the last ten years. This, believes the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA), is proof that the government is failing to provide the levels of investment necessary to bring the local road network up to an adequate standard.
The survey found that 21,500 cars rescued by the RAC over the last 12 months had suffered damage where the main contributory factor was potholes. This is a 126 per cent increase over the numbers of cars rescued in 2006. The damage includes broken suspension springs, distorted wheels and damaged shock absorbers. Reporting on the survey, David Bizley, RAC chief engineer said: “Our analysis paints a very disappointing picture which unequivocally confirms what most road users already know, which is that the condition of our local roads has deteriorated drastically in the last decade.”
Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive said: “The doubling in the number of cars damaged by potholes is proof that the decades of under-investment in our local road network is not being addressed. There is a £12 billion backlog of potholes repairs but the funding for local road maintenance is £6 billion for all of 2015- 2021. This and the occasional ad hoc funding boost, such as the recent government’s trumpeted additional £250 million, is simply not enough to address our deteriorating local road network.
Cash-strapped local authorities are doing the best that they can but faced with ever-dwindling resources it is often one step forward and two-steps back.”
The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) has called for a national statutory standard definition of what comprises a pothole. It warns that without such a standard, cash-strapped local authorities may move the goal posts in order to try to save money by not repairing smaller potholes.
RSTA’s warning follows the decision taken earlier this year by Perth and Kinross Council to redefine its classification of a pothole. The Council has declared that potholes must now be 60mm deep – an increase of 50 percent from its previous 40mm classification – before they are repaired and filled.
“Local authorities are under immense financial pressure. However, they have a duty of care to ensure that roads are properly maintained. This, they recognise and they work hard to meet that obligation but the ongoing cutbacks in local authority budgets means that that they may move the road maintenance goal posts in order to save money,” said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive.
Although there is widespread adoption of the ‘Well-Maintained Highways Code of Practice’ this only offers guidance as to best practice. It does not provide a national definition of potholes. As a result there are differing approaches throughout the UK. In Gloucestershire, a road surface defect becomes a pothole if it is 4cm deep and 30cm wide. Neighbouring Worcestershire has the same depth criteria of 40mm but a smaller dimension of 20cm. In Bath, a smaller depth of 3cm is accepted as being a pothole. However, in Hounslow, London, a pothole will only be repaired urgently if it reaches 7.5cm. In Warwickshire, a pothole of up to 5cm is not considered to be hazardous and will only be repaired as part of routine maintenance six months after being reported. Potholes up to 10cm will take up to 28 days to be repaired. However, in Trafford a pothole warrants repair at 4cm in depth. By contrast, Herefordshire County Council “aims to record and treat all potholes regardless of depth”.
“The lack of a national pothole definition means that we have a postcode lottery of road repair as different local authorities take different approaches. There is no consistency,” said Robinson. “Under the Road Traffic Act 1980 all local highway authorities have a duty of care to maintain their road network but there is no national definition or agreement as to when a pothole is a pothole.”
He continued: “A national definition of at what depth and width a defect is recognised as being a pothole would enable a consistent road maintenance risk assessment, intervention and repair approach.”