Scotland's Roads Still Not Good Enough

Recommendations to upgrade local roads over two years ago have yet to result in any significant improvements, according to a report.

An Accounts Commission audit report in 2011 said changes are needed to stop the declining condition of local roads and to improve value for money in maintenance. 

A new update, prepared by Audit Scotland, shows that the percentage of local roads deemed to be in acceptable condition has increased only marginally, from 66.1 to 66.7% between 2009-10 and 2011-12, despite roads maintenance spending being reduced from £492 million in 2009-10 to around £400 million in 2010-11. 

The proportion is still below 2005 levels, when 69.9% of local roads were classified as acceptable. 

The update finds that all councils have now put a ``roads asset management plan'' in place, one of the recommendations from 2011. 

Some evidence of action to improve value for money was found, such as joint tendering with other councils, re-organising roads departments and changing shift patterns, but the auditors say more work is needed to improve the quality and monitoring of the management plans and that the pace of progress in improving roads condition is too slow. 

Public concern about the condition of roads remains high, the new report says. 

It recommends further efforts by councils, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) and the Society of Chief Officers of Transport in Scotland. 

John Baillie, chair of the Accounts Commission said: ``There is a lot still to do. A well-maintained roads network is essential for all of us to get around in our daily lives and for economic prosperity. 

``Tighter budgets mean councils have to make tough choices across the board but this is about making better use of the resources they already have. There is potential for better sharing of skills and resources, more effective planning at national and local level and more use of benchmarking to learn from best practice elsewhere. 

``We will continue to monitor developments in the future.'' 

Councillor Stephen Hagan, Cosla's development, economy and sustainability spokesman, said: ``There is no doubt councils have been actively addressing the general condition of roads across Scotland despite reduced budgets over the last few years. 

``Councils recognise the importance of the local road network as a vital asset in the lives of local communities and for local businesses. For these reasons and many others, Scottish councils continue to invest in maintaining and improving the Scottish road network.''