COMPETITION FOR ROAD FUNDING WELCOMED

Government proposals for local highway authorities having to compete for funding have been welcomed by the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

The Department for Transport proposals, announced by Roads Minister Andrew Jones, set out a pilot scheme whereby councils will be allocated funds based on performance. Allocation of funds will be based on a set of criteria that includes asset management, efficiency, collaboration and customer satisfaction. Launching the pilot scheme Jones said: “Authorities that spend money on roads efficiently will be rewarded with extra funds to keep up the good work. While authorities with a history of inefficiency will receive comparatively less money”.

By the financial year 2018 – 19 the government proposes that over a quarter of road maintenance funding will be allocated on the basis of performance.

Welcoming the announcement, Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive said: “I am very supportive of the new approach aimed at encouraging authorities to treat their highways as a valuable asset that requires cost effective maintenance. Encouraging the development of registers and asset management plans seems eminently sensible.”

However, he warned: “There must also be recognition that not all highway authorities are starting from the same position in terms of expertise and resources. For example, implementing this new approach may be challenging for those authorities losing experienced highway engineers due to ongoing council budgetary cutbacks.” To assist highway authorities, RSTA supports asset management training and is currently developing new software that will enable highway authorities to obtain best value from using road surface treatments in a Life Cycle Analysis that includes factors such as regular planned maintenance aimed at maximising the service life of the road asset.

“The RSTA is working with highway authorities to ensure that road maintenance cost efficiency and long-term performance are achieved”, said Robinson.