Focusing roads’ maintenance expenditure on improving roads classified as ‘amber’ as well as ‘red’ is good practice and more cost-effective by avoiding greater expenditure by leaving the road condition to deteriorate further.
This was one of the conclusions made by a review panel for the Audit and Scrutiny Committee, which considered how the Operations Team prioritised roads maintenance work, how surfacing methods used were determined and what other technologies had been considered.
Other findings included:
The way the council allocated the revenue and capital budgets across the four areas is reasonable, although thought could be given to providing additional weighting for island and remote rural areas where maintenance work is much more expensive;
Developing the programme of works carries the right balance of data examination and professional judgement by engineers on the ground;
The reasons for using surface dressing as a leading treatment option are supported by other industry experts;
The council is actively exploring opportunities to work jointly with other local authorities; and
Having the chance to budget for more than one year at a time would help ensure better value when planning with suppliers.
The Scrutiny Panel, comprising independent chair Martin Caldwell and Councillors George Freeman and Richard Trail, gathered evidence from other local authorities, contractors, BEAR Scotland, Transport Scotland and the Improvement Service, and council officers.
Their findings were based on the information provided during the review.
Chair of the review panel, Martin Caldwell, said: “My thanks to everyone who took part in the review and helped us come to our conclusions. We were satisfied the council is making decisions based on the options available and in discussion with relevant stakeholders.
“As the department continues to explore the use of new technology we were confident that there will be further improvement on how the service is delivered.”
Councillor Robin Currie, Policy Lead for Housing, Roads and Infrastructure Services, said: “Maintaining roads in Argyll and Bute is a challenge. We are responsible for 2311km of road, with 80% of them rural areas. Few local authorities have to face the logistics of carrying out work on islands, not to mention bearing the additional costs.
“That’s why I’m so pleased that, after a robust review, it has been recognised that we are making the best choices for efficiency and effectiveness. This has been weighed up against evidence from our peers and other professional bodies.
“As a member of the Northern Roads Collaboration (NRC) I’m very clear that we must do as much as we can to pool our knowledge and expertise. I will take on board the panel’s suggestion that the NRC looks at how we can work even closer together to reduce costs through shared procurement.”
Note to journalist: The Northern Roads Collaboration is a Joint Committee established by Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Angus Council, Argyll and Bute Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Moray Council, and The Highland Council (the “Constituent Authorities”) under sections 56 and 57 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.It represents the joint commitment of the Constituent Authorities to work collaboratively for the joint discharge of road and road-related functions, including ports and harbours (the “Roads Collaboration”).