CIHT demands action on local road network

The Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) has written to the government on behalf of a group of industry bodies demanding that the local road network receives proper funding and their maintenance isn’t in competition with other essential local authority tasks such as libraries and social services.

CIHT President Matthew Lugg said, “Local authorities should not be forced into a trade-off between funding local roads and other vital services such as adult social care or children’s services. The removal of ‘ringfenced funding’ allowed new opportunities for local authorities to choose how they spend their money, and to prioritise the issues of local residents. However, protecting spending in some areas means that other budgets will inevitably be squeezed, leading to a lower quality of service.”

The CIHT letter was written with the support of the Institute of Highways Engineers, the Highways Term Maintenance Association, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and also highlighted a number of other key issues that need to be addressed regarding the non-Highways Agency controlled road network:

• The scale of the problem is not fully understood, nor the full benefits that the local highway network brings, as there are no overall comprehensive data sets for local roads, which are managed by 152 different local authorities. There is a range of useful surveys by bodies such as the AIA, RAC, NHT, LGA and UKRLG but none are sufficient to provide the detail needed to develop a structured approach to addressing the issues.

• There needs to be a proper consideration of how we fund our local highway network for long term sustainability. Currently there is no relationship between using local highways and paying for them, despite some users such as utilities and freight companies having a disproportionate impact. The creation of a roads funds for the SRN is welcome but given virtually all journeys on the strategic network begin and end on the local network it seems perverse not to extend the principle to the local roads network.

• That our roads are there to deliver for all users, not just motorists, so the future of local roads governance and funding must address the needs of walkers, cyclists and all users.

According to the CIHT this is part of an “ongoing conversation on the condition and structure of our local roads”. The institution is set to publish a report on the issue early next year.