Wales' highways borrowing scheme hailed as success


Council directors in Wales have praised the success of the Government's three-year Local Government Borrowing Initiative for highways maintenance.

The Welsh Government announced the LGBI in February 2012 for all 22 unitary authorities, which borrowed £175.5m of additional capital funding for highways enhancements over the following three financial years.

Transport Network does not have figures for all 22 councils yet, however at least two authorities have seen impressive results from the LGBI scheme.

In Rhondda Cynon Taf, the percentage of A-class roads requiring maintenance halved from 16.2% in 2010-11 to 8% in 2014-15. On B-class roads the improvement was 15.2% to 6.4%, but for C-class only 15.3% to 13.3.

In rural Pembrokeshire, the three classes have improved from 12.7% to 9.1% since 2012-13. C-class saw the biggest improvement, from 15.6% to 10.8% on roads in ‘overall poor condition’.

Council directors' body CSS Wales' chair Darren Thomas said the additional investment had several benefits, including improved condition and functionality of networks. He suggested any LGBI review should include the scheme’s employment benefits.

‘A continued appropriate level of investment in highway asset condition and functionality improvement is essential in order that the situation does not deteriorate quickly,’ he added.

Roger Waters, Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC’s service director for highways, said: ‘The Welsh Government LGBI programme concluded in 2014-15 and, combined with core capital resources, totalled an unprecedented £30m investment programme over four years. This has enabled significant improvement in the condition of the highway network.’

He added: ‘The council faces significant challenges in maintaining this enormous and complex asset. Whilst there is clearly a level of funding required to maintain a steady state, reducing funding below an optimum level creates greater challenges for the future.’

His authority will spend £4.5m on highways improvements and winter maintenance this year.

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