CIHT gives evidence to Scottish roads inquiry

Evidence on Scotland’s approach to road maintenance and the adequacy of current expenditure levels is being presented today by CIHT’s Vice President Neil Johnstone, who appeared before a parliamentary committee this morning.

The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee is conducting an inquiry titled ‘Pre-Budget / Financial scrutiny on roads maintenance in Scotland’.

In particular, the inquiry is exploring how recent spending decisions on road maintenance have affected the quality of Scotland’s roads, road users, businesses, public services and the economy.

It will ask what – if spending on maintenance continues at current levels – the likely impact could be and how any negative effects of reduced road spending can best be addressed.

It will also address whether the current model of funding and delivering road maintenance – which is split between Transport Scotland and local authorities – offers the most economic and efficient results.

CIHT Scotland’s written response to the inquiry highlighted that Transport Scotland spent 4% less on roads maintenance in 2014/15 than in 2011/12, while local roads authorities spent 14% less.

Although spending varies significantly around the country, there continues to be a backlog and deteriorating asset condition faced by all Scottish road authorities.

This increases personal travel costs, has the potential to reduce safety, environmental amenity and social cohesion, CIHT Scotland’s response emphasised, adding that it also raises business costs, contributes to a reduced level of public service and negatively impacts sustainable economic growth.

The submission added that the overall Scottish skills base for roads asset management is talented but reducing, and asserted that Scotland’s roads deserve appropriate long term funding to meet the functional and economic needs expected of them.

CIHT Vice President Neil Johnstone commented: “CIHT welcomes the opportunity afforded by the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee to offer views on the funding and delivery of road maintenance across Scotland.

“This perennial issue is in need of detailed examination if the never ending backlog of works is to be seriously addressed for the benefit of the economy and society at large.”