Tag Archives: road surface treatments


The Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) has welcomed the Chancellor’s new vehicle excise duty road fund.

Unveiled in his first Conservative Budget, George Osborne announced a new national fund that will see the introduction in 2017 of three new levels of vehicle excise duty for new cars, starting with a lowest duty of £140 per year. He promised that “every single penny raised in vehicle excise duty in England will pay for the sustained investment our roads so badly need”. Having commented that the quality of UK road network lags behind that of Puerto Rico and Nambia, the Chancellor stated that “tax paid on people’s cars will be used to improve the roads they drive on.”

The announcement marks a return to when road tax was collected specifically to fund road network improvements.

“We warmly welcome the recognition by the Chancellor of the poor state of the road network and his announcement to provide a dedicated road fund to address this,” said Howard Robinson, RSTA Chief Executive. “For many years we have called for the monies raised from road taxation to be ring-fenced and used for the purposes that the road tax was set-up for”.

However, he warned: “Road taxes raise some £6 billion a year whilst fuel duty raises a further £27 billion. More of this money should be invested into long-term road maintenance that addresses the £12 billion necessary to bring our road network up to a reasonable standard.”


New analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) has found that councils in England could face a £3.3 billion funding reduction in 2016/17. This means that despite recent government announcements of additional funding for repair of potholes and road maintenance, local authorities will have to further reduce their spending on fixing roads.

The LGA analysis, ‘Future Funding Outlook Report’, found that due to reduced government funding and rising demand local councils will face a funding gap of £9.5 billion by 2020. With councils already having made £20 billion in savings since 2010 following government funding cuts of up to 40% many warn that there are no further efficiencies to be made and that vital services such as road maintenance will suffer. Indeed, LGA has found that between 2010/11 and 2013/14 spending on road repairs has already decreased by 17 per cent.

“The reduction of budgets for road repairs is alarming,” said Howard Robinson, Chief Executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).  “The local road network is the greatest structural asset of local authorities yet due to continued government funding reductions, they are having to raid road budgets to fund other areas of council services. The results will be further deterioration in the road network, more pot holes and more money required in the future to make roads fit for purpose”.

He continued: “Local councils do not have the financial resources to undertake comprehensive long-term maintenance. Instead they have to do expensive short-term emergency pot hole repair and patch-and mend. Providing local authorities with the right level of funding would allow them to properly and cost efficiently maintain their roads”.


New figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that there has been an increase in overall road casualties in Britain for the first time in 18 years. It must be more than a coincidence that this increase comes at a time when many local authorities are failing to invest in a road surface that is widely recognised as playing an integral role in road safety and accident reduction.

According to the latest figures there were 1,775 reported road deaths in 2014, an increase of 4% compared with 2013. The number of those killed or seriously injured in Britain rose by 5% to 24,582. There were a total of 194,477 casualties of all severities which is an increased of 6%, the first increase in overall casualties since 1997.

“Whilst not wanting to speculate on the relationship between road surface condition and the number of road accidents, there must be some correlation between the rising number of accidents and the decrease use of high friction surfacing,” said Howard Robinson, Chief Executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA). “Despite being proven to improve skid resistance and reduce braking distances there has been a significant reduction in the installation of high friction surfacing. This has a detrimental impact on road safety and, as the average associated accident and investigation costs of a non-motorway road fatality is £1.4 million, has no economic basis.”

Typical locations for high friction surfacing include road junctions, approaches to traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and roundabouts as well as road stretches that have high accident levels. With a skid accident reduction of often 50% being reported its success speaks for itself. Treatment with high friction surfacing makes potentially high risk road locations far safer for both drivers and pedestrians and the financial savings of achieving this are considerable.

Despite the benefits over the last few years there has been a serious decline in the use of high friction surfacing due in large part to local authority perceived cost concerns. However, since the 1980’s this cost has been able to be balanced against a broader savings strategy with allocated accident investigation and prevention budgets proving the investment savings from high friction surfacing against the cost of accidents and casualties.

A further issue was the lack of best practice guidance. RSTA, with the support of ADEPT, has developed key industry guidance. The ‘Service Life of Surface Treatments’ establishes the service life of a range of road surface treatments including high friction surfacing and by doing so provides a nationally agreed baseline for durability. Having such an agreed baseline is invaluable for lifecycle planning and asset management. The service life is dependent upon a number of important factors including site location and traffic volumes, surface preparation, method of working and workforce competence based on training and qualifications.

In addition there is Code of Practice that provides best practice guidance for ensuring that the baseline service life is achieved. Aimed at both client and contractor, the Code examines the application of both hot and cold high friction surfacing systems and provides practical guidance and technical details for their specification and installation. All issues concerning planning, health and safety and work execution are examined and full reference is made to relevant regulations, standards and training. In all, the Code provides definitive guidance on the right way to specify and apply high friction surfacing. Furthermore, RSTA offers a full training programme for operatives.

“High friction surfacing offers a wide range of benefits not least of which is saving lives and money. Concerns over cost and durability have been addressed and best practice guidance and training programmes for consistent and high quality application are readily available,” said Robinson. “The increase in road fatalities and accidents underline the need for a safe, well maintained road surface.”


If the new Conservative Government really wants to have a positive impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of the country and win votes at the next General Election then it should provide real sustained investment in the maintenance of the road network believes Howard Robinson, Chief Executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

The poor potholed state of many of our roads is of considerable concern to many drivers. With thirty five million drivers in the UK, most with the ability to vote, the government would be well advised to take note of that concern. Of particular concern is that the billions of tax paid by drivers does not seem to go towards funding a better road network. Fuel duty raises an annual £26.9 billion whilst other motoring vehicle excise duties taxes raise another £6.1 billion with a further £25 billion from VAT on fuel and car sales. Despite this there is a £12 billion backlog of road repairs due to decades of under investment. The discrepancy between the amounts taken in road tax fuel duty and the amount spent on road maintenance is not lost on motorists. Recognising the growing anger of motorists the Conservative manifesto for the recent election pledged enough funding to fix around 18 million potholes nationwide between 2015 and 2021. Now that they are in power it is hoped that they fulfil this pledge.

The latest Annual Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey found that despite additional government emergency pothole repair funding and a significant 33% increase in the number of potholes being repaired during 2014 the years of under-investment means that highway authorities are playing a never-ending catch-up game. A major problem is that the additional funding being provided is being spent on expensive reactive repair rather than cost-effective preventative maintenance that would help to prevent the potholes from forming in the first place. It costs just £2m2 to surface dress and maintain a road but costs an average £54m2 to repair a pothole.

The government needs to fully recognise the social and economic benefits of a well-maintained road network and work with local highway authorities to develop and implement long-term funding mechanisms that encourage proper programmes of planned maintenance rather than reactive patch-and-mend. As part of this there should be the implementation of analytical mechanisms and economic methodology to assess the costs and benefits of a well maintained road network. The road network is the country’s greatest asset and as such should command appropriate investment.

However, there will continue to be real constraints on core revenue funding with councils being faced with reduced budgets and ever-increasing demands. Here, working with the road maintenance industry they can learn how to achieve more for less. They should also ensure the adoption of the initiatives forwarded by the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) and realise the benefits of asset management. For its part, the road surface industry should continue to further develop best practice and new products that deliver long-term performance and optimum road surface solutions.

The condition of the roads provides a visible indication of the state of a country’s social wellbeing and economic performance. If the government wishes to persuade voters that these are improving then it should invest in a better, well-maintained road network.


A new survey has underlined the poor state of the road network by revealing the huge backlog of road repairs needed to be undertaken. The scale of the problem means that the Government’s pre-Christmas announcement of a £6 billion fund to repair potholes over the next six years will not be enough.

The survey has been carried out by the Press Association who sent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to local highway authorities in England and found that some have thousands of potholes to repair and face a backlog costing up to £100 million. The greatest backlogs were in Leeds with up to £100 million, Gloucestershire with £86 million, Oldham with £60 million, Rochdale with £58 million, and Islington in London with £79 million. Some Councils reported that they had thousands of known potholes to repair such as Plymouth with 3,200 and Northumberland with 6,600.

A succession of severe winters and flooding together with on-going budget cuts have left many councils without the necessary resources to undertake necessary road maintenance. Indeed, Coalition spending cuts since 2010 had left 2,262 miles of local roads needing repairs. Data from the Department for Transport reveals spending on all road maintenance on local authority minor roads has dropped by 20% since 2010.

Recognising the parlous state of much of the local road network, the Government has announced a further £6 billion fund for road repair between 2015 and 2021. However, although welcomed this fails to address the £12 billion necessary to bring the local road network up to standard.

“The additional funds will not address the estimated £12 billion backlog of repairs. Nor does it address the fact that the overall funding gap for road repair continues to increase year on year”, explained Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

He continued: “Highway authorities continue to face severe financial restraints. That is the reality. Whilst, RSTA and its members continue to work closely with local authorities to develop and implement highway maintenance efficiency programmes that will enable them to achieve ‘more for less’, the decades of under investment means that many councils are running just to stand still.”