William Eichler 04 August 2016

Scottish councils ‘urgently’ need to share services to improve roads

Scottish councils ‘urgently’ need to share services to improve roads image

Councils should ‘collaborate more’ in order to improve Scotland’s road network, auditors say.

A report from Audit Scotland today noted the proportion of Scottish roads classed as being in acceptable condition has remained constant at around 63% over the four years 2011/12 to 2014/15.

It also said councils, which are responsible for most of Scotland’s roads, spent 14% less on maintenance over the same period, and Transport Scotland spent £24m less on structural maintenance in 2014/15 than was considered necessary to maintain road condition at current levels.

Acknowledging local authorities are facing increasing financial pressures, Audit Scotland warned ‘urgent action’ should be taken to improve the Scottish road network.

The auditors recommended councils share roads maintenance services on a regional basis, a practice they said local authorities had been slow at developing.

Accounts commission chair Douglas Sinclair said: ‘The state of our roads is a major concern for the public. Surveys show that they remain dissatisfied, despite these concerns being flagged up in our two previous reports. Their voice needs to be listened to.

‘Councils face increasing pressures and challenges but progress in developing a shared services approach for roads has been disappointingly slow. They can and should collaborate much more to secure better value for money.’

Auditor general Caroline Gardner also commented: ‘A well-maintained roads network is vital for Scotland's economic prosperity. We cannot afford to neglect it. What is needed is a longer term view which takes into account both the need for new roads and the proper maintenance of what we have at present.’

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