Wales set for 20% cuts to trunk roads

 

The Welsh Government is seeking a 20% cost saving in trunk road maintenance, which is carried out by local authorities on its behalf.

The number of regional agencies was reduced from eight to two from 2005 to 2012, but auditors subsequently said the changes were insufficient and costs were not transparent enough.

The current agencies have agreed proposals with the Government to deliver £6m of savings in 2016-17 in discharging statutory duties, transport minister Edwina Hart reported in a briefing for the Assembly’s enterprise and business committee on the draft Welsh budget.

”Local
Emptying the trunk: Wales set for £14m cuts to strategic roads

She said: ‘We have also set the agents a target to deliver a further £8m of savings a year through more efficient and innovative working practices and the use of new technology.

'These savings represent a 10% reduction, rising to 20%, when compared to 2015-16 baselines. Consideration will be given to how best to utilise these savings including re-investment in the network to offset future expenditure.’

The savings plan, to be monitored independently from April, focuses broadly on the Trunk Road Maintenance Manual, the schedule of rates and management costs.

Last year the Assembly’s public accounts committee recommended actions to improve trunk road value for money.

Mrs Hart says progress is ongoing and ‘findings on the consideration of a single agent model’ have been reported.

In September, Transport Network reported on concerns that trunk road management could be centralised in a move that would not necessarily improve efficiency. It was claimed that local authorities could often obtain better prices than a national procurement service would.

Elsewhere in Wales, rural councils recently told Transport Network they belived the highways funding formula was 'not fit for purpose' and unfairly disadvantaged them. 

This week it emerged the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has submitted plans for grants to limit funding losses from planned budget cuts for rural councils such as Powys, Ceredigion, Monmouthshire and Pembrokeshire.

The BBC reported the representative body for Welsh councils wants the Welsh Government to provide a grant of up to £4.75m, while an alternative WLGA proposal would see Powys, Ceredigion and Monmouthshire councils share £2.48m.

A Welsh government spokesman said: 'We have noted the calls for a grant to mitigate the impact on the rural authorities receiving lower Revenue Support Grant settlements and will reflect on this alongside other evidence we receive as part of the budget scrutiny.'

 

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