Headlines: November 12th, 2003

Councils in Scotland say lack of funding means roads that should be resurfaced every ten to twenty years are waiting an average of eighty-one years to be dealt with. The figure was given by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in support of claims made in the Scottish Parliament about the state of the country’s roads.The Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland and the Automobile Association had both claimed that a lack of funding for on-going maintenance had resulted in a need for major capital investment. Backing that view COSLA said councils shared the frustration of the general public and the motorists on the issue. Councils, it said, had struggled for too long to try to maintain the 50,000 kilometres of roads for which they were responsible.

The Convention’s Roads and Transportation spokeswoman, Councillor Alison Magee, said: Scotland’s roads were crying out for major capital investment. “Constant under-funding has meant cut backs on regular maintenance to the point where some roads are past maintenance and may require re-building if they are to remain open. Roads which should be re-surfaced every 10 to 20 years must wait an average of 81 years for treatment, ” she said. Councillor Magee said the situation over funding for road maintenance was only one example of what she called “the lack of systematic planning on spending”. Too much of the Scottish Executive’s funding in recent times had been made available for one-off projects that grabbed news headlines. COSLA has argued for some time for an integrated transport strategy for Scotland which would allow funding to be committed long term to road maintenance and other priority areas. Councils could then plan their spending strategically in advance.

Councillor Magee said it was the problem of under funding which made the forthcoming spending review so important and roads were just one of the priority areas Scottish councils wanted the review to address.