Will TfL be the test case for the new highways code of practice?

 

Transport for London’s (TfL) plans to cut back on maintenance and renewals on its road network could leave it open to legal challenge, an expert in local authority law has warned.

The capital’s transport authority appears to have set itself up as a potential test case over the complex issue of affordability under the new highways national code of practice.

It follows an announcement by TfL that ‘all non-essential road improvements have been paused for two years’ in the face of central Government funding cuts.

The TfL Business Plan states: ‘Given the end to Government funding of the road network, this will mean a slight dip in asset condition from current levels. Activities will be prioritised using a risk-based approach so we get the best results for our investment.’

The new code of practice Well-managed Highway Infrastructure is not a statutory document but is often taken by courts as a benchmark for how highway authorities fulfil their statutory duty.

The latest code suggests affordability is a factor when it comes to prioritising a risk-based approach to highways maintenance however case law, particularly Wilkinson -v- City of York, has confirmed that a lack of resources is not a defence.

In linking funding levels to its risk-based approach priorities, TfL could have set itself up for a potential test case to establish whether the Wilkinson judgement might be overturned following the new code.

The code of practice was released in October 2016 and highway authorities have until 28 October this year to implement it.

The TfL Business Plan adds: ‘Our investment in maintenance and renewals aims to ensure network safety and provide a serviceable level of “state of good repair” for all highway assets, including carriageways, footways, traffic signals, bridges, tunnels, street lighting, drainage and trees.’

Steven Conway, a solicitor from Keystone Law who specialises in acting for local authorities, told Transport Network: 'It looks like TfL are seeking to develop their own levels of service “in accordance with local needs, priorities and affordability", which is entirely consistent with the recommendations in the new highways code of practice.'

However, he added: 'In relation to highway maintenance, this approach does not sit well with existing case law, which is that the concept of affordability, or budgetary constraints does not feature in a consideration of whether an authority can have the benefit of the statutory defence to a claim for damages for highway disrepair. I think that it is only a matter of time before this issue is brought back before the courts and I can therefore see TfL being challenged on it.

'I think it is now however open for TfL and other highway authorities to argue that as it is in the new code, it is a factor which the courts should take in to account in determining whether an authority has complied with the relevant standards.'

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

Environmental Health Officer WCC10676

Westminster City Council
£33,759 - £47,274 per annum
As an Environmental Health Officer in Food Safety or Health and Safety, you will be responsible for... London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council

Definitive Map Manager

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
This role is based within the Highways Service at Cambridgeshire County Council and provides an unusual and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Assistant Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,074 - £30,756
A great opportunity for someone looking to start or develop a career in Highways Engineering including the... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Head of Strategic Transport

Cheshire East Council
£64,000 - £75,000 + benefits
We’re committed to “working for a brighter future together” – and we expect you to be too! Cheshire
Recuriter: Cheshire East Council

Regeneration Manager

Mole Valley District Council
£52,895 - £57,143 FTE
This is a great career opportunity to specialise in town centre regeneration and repositioning. Dorking, Surrey
Recuriter: Mole Valley District Council

Technical Services Officer (Mechanical)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£36,876 - £38,813
This is an exciting and challenging time for Kirklees and we want to expand our team to manage and deliver construction... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Road and Footway Asset Engineer

Kent County Council
£28,925 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the Road and Footway Asset Team as an Asset Engineer. Kent
Recuriter: Kent County Council

Head of Waste

Lincolnshire County Council
£65,651 - £70,725
As Head of Waste, you will be commercially focussed and forward-thinking. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Assistant Director

Reading Borough Council
Up to £92k
It’s the ideal time to take the lead on our modernisation agenda, and deliver growth in the trading of our front line services. Reading, Berkshire
Recuriter: Reading Borough Council

Assistant Director – Highways

Lincolnshire County Council
£82,264 - £107,878
Come and lead the future agenda for our highways services. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council