Exclusive: Highways professionals want major changes on local roads

 

Even those who know the sector inside out may be surprised by the results of the latest FiTZ INDEX survey carried out by Highways magazine in partnership with Fitzpatrick Advisory, as we reveal what professionals from a wide range of highways disciplines feel about the key issues.

A major survey of highways professionals, some at the very top of the industry, has revealed almost unanimous support for a five-year investment strategy for the local road network, which would put it on the same footing as Highways England and Network Rail.

More than 360 people responded to our survey and around 97% agreed that local roads – which themselves cover around 98% of the network – should be granted a five-year funding plan. In fact, 69% strongly agreed with the idea and 28% agreed. This is despite only 33.2% of respondents actually hailing from regional, city or local government clients.

The new president of council directors’ body ADEPT told Highways that a five-year local roads plan would be one of the association’s key campaigns under his leadership.

”Local
Simon Neilson, president of council directors’ body ADEPT

Simon Neilson, executive director of economy and environment at Walsall Council, said such a plan would mean ‘making the best of limited resources, spending it wisely alongside other street furniture and built environment improvements and synchronising works with statutory undertaking’.

‘If we had the means to develop our road network at the same quality as Highways England is able to – brilliant. It feels like we’re the poor relations and unfortunately we are the ones – and our politicians in particular – who get shot in the neck when the state of our roads is as it is.’

On the issue of the performance related funding brought in by the Department for Transport (DfT) under the Incentive Fund, a total of 71% agreed that performance-related pay for highways authorities raises standards with 22% strongly agreeing.

The UK has more than 200 local highways authorities – 153 in England, 32 in Scotland and 22 in Wales - while Northern Ireland’s Department for Infrastructure, Highways England and Transport Scotland play national roles.

More than 65% of respondents disagreed with the statement that this provides value for money. Respondents made it clear that they feel the number is too high and a sizeable majority feel it could be reduced by at least half.

Steve Gooding, former DfT director and current director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘We agree the sheer number of local highways authorities is too high, in part because there might be scope to cut costs and pool resources, but also because strategic decisions need to be taken across a geographically-large area. Travel demand is no respecter of local authority boundaries – hence the age-old transport professional focus on the “travel-to-work” area.’

The survey also reveals a deep ambivalence towards road charging. The split between those who feel we should continue with funding from government and those who feel there needs to be a more direct relationship between road users and payment was roughly 47%/53%.

A large majority think the public are either against it because they feel they would end up paying more and don’t want to (41.6%) or because they don’t trust politicians to spend the cash in the right way (36.9%). Around 67% disagreed with the idea that the Government could implement road user charging without damaging public and business confidence in such a system.

Mr Gooding said: ‘Ultimately the drivers for change are likely to be the greening of the vehicle fleet and the consequent fall in fuel duty revenue, rather than the traditional bugbear of congestion. But if we were to see a more direct “pass-through” of money to highways authorities, by pay-as-you-go or other systems, we think that would have to come with clearer accountability to road users about the quality of service they get in return.’

A former senior figure in London transport, and a leading member of the Local Government Technical Advisers Group, John Elliott, said it showed the sector had ‘a lot of work to do if we are to advance transport policy’.

Qualitative research in the survey also showed a deep frustration with the procurement process. The majority of respondents said it did not help foster innovation.

Click here for the survey results

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Fire Safety Contract Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£40,028 to £46,431
We are currently seeking an experienced Fire Safety Contract Manager to lead and co-ordinate activities and to ensure that the service is managed Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Pest Control Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£27,093 to £29,188
As a Pest Control Officer within Environmental Health, Business and Consumer Services your focus will be to deliver pest control treatments Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Waste Prevention Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£35,913 - £41,657
We now have an exciting opportunity for a talented and enthusiastic individual to join us and be part of a team tottenham
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Waste Prevention Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£35,913 - £41,657
We now have an exciting opportunity for a talented and enthusiastic individual to join us and be part of a team developing a new vision Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Operations Manager – Waste and Recycling

Bath & North East Somerset Council
£38,052- £40,858.
This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced waste management professional Bath, Somerset
Recuriter: Bath & North East Somerset Council

HGV Driver/Loader

Torridge District Council
£18,070 - £20,138
DRIVER/LOADER (HGV) Driving and loading a refuse/recycling collection vehicle up to 26 tonne gross weight, you will collect recycling or household ... Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Principal Transport Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£37,320 to £40,198
The role will require close dialogue with developers and their agents and necessitate strong partnership working with District Councils... Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Senior Engineer – Traffic and Road Safety

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Trainee Technician – Active and Sustainable Travel

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,667 - £22,424 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Parking

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for the delivery of parking engineering design and implementation of schemes across the borough Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Highway Maintenance/Asset Management

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for highway asset management, reactive and planned highway maintenance, highway safety and structural surveys and inspections. Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Trainee Technician – Projects

Redbridge London Borough Council
£20,667 - £22,424 per annum
Redbridge Council is an outer Borough, working to improve the environment and its services for residents and businesses. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Flood Management/Civil Engineering

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To provide expert advice on highway and land drainage, flood risk management, sustainable drainage, highway structures and bridges... Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Senior Engineer – Development Control

Redbridge London Borough Council
£35,992 - £38,994 per annum
To be responsible for assisting and supporting the operational delivery of the Council’s highways development control function and to assist the lead Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer – Projects

Redbridge London Borough Council
£30,930 - £32,638 per annum
To assist with the delivery of highway and land drainage, flood risk management, sustainable drainage, highway structures and bridges... Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer – Parking

Redbridge London Borough Council
£30,930 - £32,638 per annum
To assist with the delivery of parking engineering design and implementation of schemes across the borough Ilford, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

Engineer (Bridges)

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
You will have experience in the development, planning, design and implementation of transport infrastructure and related projects Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Pest Control Officer

Brent Council
£25,746 - £27,342 p.a. inc.
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Streetworks Officer

Westminster City Council
£32,592 - £41,601
As Streetworks Officer you will be a member of the permitting and streetworks team City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council

Vehicle Mechanic

Rugby Borough Council
£23,866 - £28,221 (£28,703 - £33,941 pro rata for 44.5 hours per week)
The post holder will ideally be qualified to undertake taxi compliance testing, preparation for MOT testing from Class 4 and 7. Rugby, Warwickshire
Recuriter: Rugby Borough Council