Urgent repairs 'vital' for economy

Crumbling roads ‘unacceptable’, says watchdog

Holes in roadsA  third of Scotland’s roads are in an unacceptable condition and have been for four years, according to new research.

Public spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, found that 37% of roads fell are in urgent need of repair while motorways have shown the biggest deterioration with the amount of resurfacing required up from 30% to 42% since 2012.

Accounts Commission has ordered Transport Scotland, which is responsible for trunk roads, and local authorities, which maintain other roads, to tackle the problem.

The commission says proper maintenance of the roads network “is vital for economic prosperity and for people to get around safely.”

However, it says roads authorities, locally and nationally, “urgently need to be more innovative, develop robust ways to compare relative efficiency, and engage better with road users.

“Sharing roads maintenance services on a regional basis can offer significant benefits but progress in developing this has been slow and there is still no clear plan or timetable to deliver it in practice.”

Councils maintain most of Scotland’s roads network. The proportion of these roads classed as being in acceptable condition has remained constant at around 63% over the four years 2011/12 to 2014/15, says the commission’s report.

Councils’ spending on maintenance fell by 14% over the same period and it found a wide variation among councils and concern that current surveys do not always pick up damage to lower road layers.

Argyll and Bute was the worst with 56%of its roads needing repairs compared to 21% in Orkney.

Accounts Commission chairman Douglas Sinclair said: “The state of our roads is a major concern for the public.

“Surveys show that they remain dissatisfied, despite these concerns being flagged up in our two previous reports. Their voice needs to be listened to.

‘A well-maintained roads network is vital for Scotland’s economic prosperity’

“Councils face increasing pressures and challenges but progress in developing a shared services approach for roads has been disappointingly slow. They can and should collaborate much more to secure better value for money.”

Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: “A well-maintained roads network is vital for Scotland’s economic prosperity. We cannot afford to neglect it. What is needed is a longer term view which takes into account both the need for new roads and the proper maintenance of what we have at present.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone said: “This is a damning report which exposes how the SNP has let the state of Scotland’s roads slip significantly.

“It’s incredible to think that in some parts of Scotland there are more bad roads than good.”

Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “Poorly maintained roads are a huge problem for local small businesses. Not only do bad roads cause damage and delay, dilapidated streets damage civic pride. 

“The vast majority of Scotland’s smaller businesses rely on cars or vans. Every plumber, pizzeria and pipefitter can tell you how our run-down local roads hurt their business.

“We need to see our political leaders develop a plan to fix this problem and many in the business community are fed up with a lack of action.”


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