Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Memoranda

Memorandum by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (RM 14)


  Please find below the conclusions drawn from the PACTS Road Environment Working Party meeting held on 23 January.

  1.  PACTS welcomes this committee inquiry into the state of repair of the roads. There exists little robust research into the relationship between road maintenance and road safety and PACTS therefore recommends more detailed research in this area.

  2.  A sustained commitment to maintenance is required. This effort must deal with more than the superficial aspects of maintenance as are covered by the Best Value Performance Indicators. PACTS' members have expressed concern over the potentially substantial deterioration that takes place below the road surface. This kind of road deterioration is not identified by the DETR's current visual survey of the state of the roads.

  3.  PACTS would like to see research that determines whether the level of investment required to maintain roads is being provided. While there is significant capital investment in road building projects, there is concern over whether the revenue available to local authorities for annual maintenance is adequate.

  4.  Furthermore, PACTS would like to see confirmation that funds, in part given to local authorities through the Local Transport Plan methodology, are indeed spent on the maintenance activities to which they are allocated.

  5.  The importance of road sign visibility should be acknowledged. Since road signs convey important information which facilitates road safety, appropriate resources must be directed at cleaning signs and clearing obstructions.

  6.  Neglect of road maintenance is exacerbated by the current skills shortage in highways engineering. More needs to be done to re-engage people in this area of work. Highways engineering should be promoted as a career choice in order to manage this deficit over the long-term.

  7.  PACTS considers that the de-trunking process could present problems of under-resourcing for road maintenance. There is concern that the transition of roads from Highways Agency responsibility to local authorities should be accompanied by a comparable transition of resources to prevent maintenance neglect.

  8.  Research into non-principal roads and their rate of deterioration is also recommended by PACTS. The maintenance of non-principal roads is too often marginalized, particularly in view of the increasing volume of traffic on these roads. Commercial and residential developments bring new pressures to non-principal road networks. These are not always reflected by re-classification, with the associated funding arrangements. Attention needs to be given to all types of roads in order to ensure adequate resources and procedures are available to facilitate the maintenance of all roads.

Clare Maltby

Policy & Campaigns Officer (PACTS)

January 2001

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