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

AGM:
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)

Meeting:
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.

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.

26 October 2016

26 October 2016

‘A Major Road network for England’ – a fresh approach to managing roads to better support the economy. 

Guest speaker, Phil Carey, Road User Policy Advisor to Transport Focus and vice-chair of the Transport Associates’ Network, set out the key findings of the Rees Jeffreys Fund report, ‘A Major Road network for England’ on the benefits of setting up a three-tier road system.

For a report summary click here.

For the meeting notes click here.

20 July 2016

20 July 2016

Resilience of network under pressure – Alan Casson, Road and Footway Asset Manager at Kent County Council, highlights how the findings of the 2016 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) Survey resonate with experiences at a local level.

Meeting notes can be downloaded here.

8 March 2016

8 March 2016

Roads maintenance and the circular economy.

Tom Green and Surabhin Chackiat of environmental firm, SLR Consulting outlined the role that existing road materials can play in the maintenance and construction of the road network.

Meeting notes can be downloaded here.