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New research suggests that 2015 could see a significant increase in local road maintenance work due to the increase in the number of term maintenance contracts being awarded. However, the increase in contracts does not necessarily mean a boom time for road maintenance contractors as diminishing highway budgets continue to demand ‘more for less’ efficiency believes the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

The research report, ‘Term contracts for highways maintenance’ from BDS Marketing found that more than 80 term highway maintenance contracts will be awarded by local authorities during 2015. This compares with 65 awarded in 2014. The contracts up for renewal during 2015 are valued at nearly £300 million. In addition, there are five Highways England contracts to be awarded in 2015 with a value of £250 million. The BDS report details over 300 highway maintenance contracts currently in place with UK local authorities.

“The continued deterioration of our road network resulting from decades of under-investment means that highway authorities have no choice but to address the issue of road maintenance”, said Howard Robinson, RSTA chief executive. “The predicted increase in term maintenance contracts is welcomed but it does not mean boom times for road maintenance contractors as more than ever before, continued budget restraints will require ‘more for less’.

Robinson believes that ‘more for less’ can be delivered via improved highway maintenance efficiency, increased value for money, improved whole life performance and better asset management. For local authorities this means looking beyond traditional thinking, examining the potential for collaboration with other authorities, exchanging information on best practice and being open to new innovation. For the maintenance contractor, it means ensuring a ‘right first time’ approach that embraces good practice delivered by a competent, fully trained and qualified workforce.

“An increase in the number of maintenance contract awards is evidence of the recognition that the road network needs attention. However, without the necessary significant increase in central government funding, local highway authorities are still severely handicapped in the amount of maintenance work that they can undertake,” said Robinson. “Highway authorities and road contractors need to work together in order to deliver more for less.”