6 March 2018

6 March 2018

Clive Hall, Head of Highways & Community Services at Herefordshire Council, spoke to the meeting on behalf of the Midlands Service Improvement Group (MSIG) about its response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on proposals for a major road network (MRN).

Clive’s presentation can be seen in full here, and included the following points:

  • While supportive of the proposal’s core principals, MSIG considers that DfT’s proposals do not represent a holistic approach to developing a coherent road network and undervalues the importance of connectivity between locations. The MRN should be identified on the basis of a route’s current and future importance to the economy and resilience of the region. Not all de-trunked routes have retained such importance, particularly in areas of the country where the density of the SRN and proposed MRN is comparatively high.
  • The missing component in the MRN proposals is its maintenance. Without investment in the maintenance of the MRN it will not operate well as part of a whole system.
  • The MRN proposal’s focus on new schemes/major renewals could lead to unintended consequences where authorities let ads decline rather than maintaining them as part of an asset management approach. This will result in poor investment choices and is contrary to life cycle planning

The following discussion covered whether the local authority funding system was working properly, or was inadvertently hindering the allocation of the “right” money to the right projects at the right time. Acknowledging the importance of local roads to the economy and productivity, the question was raised about whether the industry could propose ways in which road conditions could be enhanced to improve productivity and save road maintenance money in the long term.

Full minutes of the meeting can be viewed here.


21 November 2017

21 November 2017

Speaker, Dr Emily Andrews of the Institute for Government, provided an overview of the recently published Performance Tracker which brings together more than 100 data series to provide a comprehensive picture of Government s performance in running key public services.

She explained that the chapter on local neighbourhood services, which includes data on road maintenance indicates that, despite reduced revenue budgets, local authorities have found efficiencies – with the resilience of the network generally holding up. However, against a backdrop of low public satisfaction levels and continued pressure on revenue budgets, her main question to those present was, to use a mining analogy, what was the canary in the coal mine? And, will there be a tipping point ahead as experienced in other public services, such as prisons? She suggested that a more consistent approach to funding, rather than large rises reported in other areas when services start to fail, would be more effective.

A copy of the report can be found at : https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/sites/default/files/publications/Performance tracker oct 2017 web.pdf see pages 1-8 and 61-68.

Meeting minutes can be found here.

11 July 2017

11 July 2017

Following the General Election, Chairman Christopher Chope welcomed members and guests to the inaugural AGM of the Group in this Parliament. The election of the Officers of the Group en bloc was proposed by Dr Lewis and seconded by Andrew Bridgen and carried unanimously. Full minutes of the AGM available here. (link)

Malcolm Simms, technical director of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) presented a review of current issues facing local authority highway teams in light of the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey 2017 and the recently published Transport Investment Strategy document (DfT July 2017).

Malcolm outlined that the DfT’s proposals are understood to involve the redirection of funds to be raised from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) to local roads. If implemented, main roads overseen by local authorities could get a share of the VED-funded National Roads Fund. Previously it was set out that this funding stream – announced in the 2015 budget – would be ring-fenced for the strategic road network (SRN) managed by Highways England.

In addition, the proposals include the setting up of a Major Roads Network (MRN) recognising that ‘local authority A roads are strategically important to the economic wellbeing of the regions and the country as a whole’. Malcolm concluded that, at this early stage in the proposals, industry believes a move towards a MRN would only be of benefit to local authorities and road users if it represented additional funds over current levels. It would be deemed counter-productive if prioritising funds on key routes led to the rest of the network deteriorating at an even faster rate. The full presentation can be viewed here. (link)

The meeting agreed with the Chairman’s proposal that the APPG would respond formally to the forthcoming DfT consultation on its Transport Investment Strategy in relation to creating a “Major Roads Network”.

Full meeting minutes can be viewed here.

July 5, 2017 – Transport Investment Strategy: Moving Britain Ahead

Department for Transport


The Department for Transport has published a new strategy explaining how local roads will benefit from a multi-billion-pound investment fund and the proposed creation of a major road network.

The strategy will be funded by reallocating some funds raised by the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), with the aim to improve connectivity of towns and cities across the country.

Its proposed creation of a new major road network would see a share of the annual National Road Fund, funded by VED, given to local authorities to improve or replace the most important A roads under their management.

To view the full report, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/624990/transport-investment-strategy-web.pdf

March 30, 2017

March 30, 2017

New skills survey calls to make the highways sector fit for the future
A survey by Highways UK into UK skills highlights that 71% of people working within the highways sector are concerned that staff shortages within their organisations could impact on the future delivery of client programmes. 61% of respondents to the survey expect their companies to decline opportunities to tender for work due to insufficient internal resources.

Writing in the report’s foreword, Tricia Hayes, the Department for Transport’s Director General for roads says: “Thanks to this survey, the highways sector knows where it needs to focus its efforts in detail. I am particularly struck by the need to tackle the lack of diversity. We have to do this if we are to access the full spectrum of talent that we need.”

The Highways UK skills survey was circulated widely to the memberships of ICE and CIHT and promoted extensively through the social media channels of Highways England and engineering recruitment specialist matchtech. The report can be downloaded at: http://www.highways-uk.com/content/huk/docs/hukskillssurvey-2017.pdf

March 28, 2017 – Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey 2017

March 28, 2017 – Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey 2017

The Asphalt Industry Alliance’s (AIA) latest ALARM survey reports that that within the next five years one in six of our roads will need to be repaired, or even closed. The cumulative effect of an ageing network, decades of underfunding, increased traffic and wetter winters has led to around 17 per cent of all local roads reported as being in poor structural condition, with less than 5 years of life remaining.

The 22nd annual ALARM Survey ALARM also reports local authorities need over £12 billion to bring the network up to scratch – a figure that has remained largely unchanged for four years. The gap between the amount councils received and the amount they say they need to keep the carriageway in reasonable order is now almost £730 million.

Click here to download ALARM 2017



Roadfile provides a credible source of information for UK road-related statistics. It offers a useful hub of collated data to highlight the important role the road network plays in our keeping communities connected and in supporting the economy. The updates website, now supported by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) now contains 2016 figures.

Go to: http://www.roadusers.org.uk

14 March 2017

14 March 2017

Challenges facing our local roads – speakers included the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s (AIA) Chairman, Alan Mackenzie, AIA Technical Director, Malcolm Simms and the Institute of Highways Engineers’ (IHE) Chief Executive, Richard Hayes.

Alan set out the key findings from the Annual Local Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey 2017. The report highlights how the cumulative effects of an aging network, decades of underfunding, increased traffic and wetter winters are impacting on the resilience of local roads.

Malcolm reviewed product specification and how best to approach this vital area in a post-Brexit world and Richard set out the recruitment and retention challenges facing the roads sector in a time of increasing uncertainty.

The Chairman also asked Charlie Elphicke MP, to speak about the FairFuelUK group’s report, commissioned from CEBR, on the economic effects of road investment.

Meeting notes, including speakers’ presentations, can be downloaded here.

October 15, 2013

October 15, 2013 – Managing a valuable asset: improving local road condition

This report is the result of several discussion between members of the Highway Maintenance Group and various experts, industry representatives and local politicians. The refrain is always “something must be done”, but no one seems to be able to agree on what must be done…

The report recommends:

  • Getting local roads into a satisfactory steady state for planned preventative maintenance as soon as possible.
  • Improving borrowing facilities to allow councils to prevent roads deteriorating further before additional maintenance funding promised by government for the 6-years starting in 2015.
  • Making asset management plans mandatory in return for access to central government funds for road maintenance.
  • Allow further devolution of highways funding decisions, by encouraging decisions on how local authorities can spend central funding allocated for capital outlay to be made locally
  • Optimising maintenance schedules across local and national strategic road networks, to minimise disruption to road users and the associated costs

To view or download the full report, please click here.

To view or download the full release, please click here.