ADEPT calls for an end to ‘sticking plaster’ road repair funding

The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has called for a systematic change to funding local roads maintenance.

ADEPT’s new position paper on local highways maintenance, which was launched at today’s Highways UK event, calls for sustainable long-term funding.

In the paper, the organisation makes it clear that, although the recent Budget announcement from Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is welcome, it offers little to support long-term planning.

‘The current system is broken,’ said ADEPT president Neil Gibson.

‘We have to stop trying to plaster over the cracks with short-term handouts and uncoordinated funding streams.

‘For some time now, the 300,000km of local roads have been treated as a poor relation to the 7,000km Strategic Roads Network.  The recent £420million announcement for repairs is welcomed, but it maintains the “sticking plaster” approach that does little to tackle the fundamental issues faced by local highways authorities,’ added Mr Gibson.

‘Most journeys start and finish on local roads. Communities and businesses need reliable, efficient and well-maintained roads that are vital for economic growth.’

ADEPT considers effective asset management to be the central plank of well-maintained roads alongside long-term funding and investment in digital innovation. Its DfT-funded  £25million SMART Places research programme, in partnership with, SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, O2, and Ringway illustrates the Association’s commitment to delivering new technology across local roads.

The paper also examines the role of the private sector and is calling for a more innovative approach to procurement and is working with its corporate partners to create better value for money through increased collaboration.

Mark Stevens, chair of ADEPT’s engineering board added: ‘The challenges facing the local roads network are significant. There has been an increase of over 2.5 million more vehicles on the roads in the last five years, and this trend is set to continue.

‘The more extreme weather we have seen this year, with the ‘Beast from the East’ and higher than normal temperatures in the early summer, as well as the £9.3 million repairs backlog, all add to the pressure on road quality.

‘The DfT’s Road Investment Strategy (2014) recognised how sustainable investment in roads maintenance makes economic and environmental sense, but centrally imposed spending cuts lead to inevitable continued deterioration. At national level, this disconnect is the heart of the problem.

‘We want to work closely with the DfT and the wider industry on how to make real, effective change in how we tackle the critical issue of maintaining local roads. In challenging times, it will take a whole-sector approach to examine each aspect – from funding mechanisms and delivery through to innovation, procurement and technology,’ added Mr Stevens.

The ADEPT Autumn conference will discuss how to deliver an integrated, resilient road network as well as the development of the SMART Places Programme.

To download a copy of the policy position and for more information on the conference and ADEPT, visit www.adeptnet.org.uk.

Jamie Hailstone

Jamie Hailstone

journalist

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