Call for Scottish road authority revamp as collaboration bid slows


Budget cuts have hampered collaboration between Scotland's highway authorities while financial pressures are likely to make the structure of 33 separate authorities unsustainable, transport bosses have said.

The comments come in a response by the Road Maintenance Strategic Action Group (SAG), chaired by Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf, to a highly critical August 2016 report by Audit Scotland.


While the document addresses the individual recommendations set out in the Audit Scotland report, it argues: ‘these responses relate solely to the recommendations made and there are […] wider strategic points that need to be made’.

It notes that spending on local roads has declined by 26% in real terms across the last five years as a result of the prioritisation of education and care and that current spending is insufficient to tackle a known maintenance backlog of £1.2bn while all projections suggest that there will be continued pressure on roads maintenance spending.

The document states: ‘The clear conclusion of the Strategic Action Group and the Roads Collaboration Board is that, given the projected pressures, a model for roads maintenance in Scotland based on 33 roads authorities is likely to be unsustainable.’

In response to Audit Scotland’s recommendation that the SAG should ‘support the development of regional arrangements for roads services’, the new document notes the establishment of voluntary cluster groups of roads authorities through the Roads Collaboration Programme (RCP), under the Governance First initiative.

However, the document states that budget reductions have eroded the local authority management and change capacity necessary to develop collaboration between authorities and that ‘progress has been less rapid than envisaged’.

The SAG responds to a recommendation to use the National Highways & Transport (NHT) Network Survey, or similar, to obtain user views and perceptions of roads services consistently, by observing: ‘Given that comparable road condition information is available nationally via the Road Condition Indicator (RCI), albeit this is not a direct measure of residents’ views, there is some degree of concern about whether the additional cost of the NHT survey can be justified.’

It adds: ‘Notwithstanding the above, six councils participated in the NHT survey during 2017/18. A common approach being explored is to participate only every 2-3 years given the costs involved and the likelihood of little change in customer views in a single year.’

SAG is dismissive of Audit Scotland’s recommendation that the results of user surveys can be used to develop more proactive ways of engaging with the public over roads maintenance issues, ‘and to help inform scrutiny and challenge of roads maintenance budgetary proposals’.

It notes: ‘Despite the condition of roads and pavements often being at low end of customer satisfaction levels, there is little evidence that this is feeding through to additional funding commitments to address local concerns.’

The SAG comprises representatives from Transport Scotland; the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA); the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS); the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE); the Scottish Roadworks Commissioner; and the Improvement Service.

Road Expo Scotland 2018 will take place at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh on 31 October and 1 November. If you want to be kept informed on developments or if you wish to receive details about sponsoring or exhibiting please email Dino Dionissiou at

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
transport network jobs


Torridge District Council
Up to £34,106 per annum plus relocation package up to £8,000
Looking for an experienced civil/structural engineer providing strategic feasibility and design advice to the authority Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Highway Project Engineer

City of London
Up to £42,870 per annum (inclusive of London Weighting) depending upon performance.
The Department of Built Environment is responsible for the delivery of highway and drainage schemes within the City of London London (Central), London (Greater)
Recuriter: City of London

Graduate Transport Planner

Cambridgeshire County Council
£17,681 - £23,111
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Engineer Maintenance

Liverpool City Council
£32,233 - £37,107
Liverpool City Council are looking to recruit an Engineer Maintenance Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Tree Services Programme Manager

Nottingham City Council
You will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the Council's trees and woods, and will provide professional advice to others Woodthorpe, Nottingham
Recuriter: Nottingham City Council

Transport Coordinator

Camden London Borough Council
£32,473 to £37,670
We have an exciting opportunity for 2 highly customer focused Transport Coordinators to work in the busy Camden Transport Team. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Highway Electrical Supervisor (Highway Maintenance)

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,657 to £28,221
The post will support two Senior Lighting Engineers in leading and contributing to the delivery of the Street Lighting function for the Authority Bootle, Merseyside
Recuriter: Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council

Flood Risk Management Engineer

London Borough of Bexley
£31,353 to £36,876
We are currently seeking a Flood Risk Management Engineer who will have a lead role with the Flood Risk and Development Team Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Senior Engineer (Traffic Signal Improvements)

Lincolnshire County Council
£34,106 - £38,052
This is a superb opportunity to lead, motivate and inspire our engineering team working on traffic signal improvement projects. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Senior Engineer (Traffic Signal System and Operations)

Lincolnshire County Council
£34,106 - £38,052
This is a superb opportunity to lead, motivate and inspire our engineering team working on traffic signal systems and operations. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Engineer (Traffic Signals)

Lincolnshire County Council
£42,806 - £49,441
Do you want to lead, manage and motivate a team of engineers working at the cutting edge of technology? Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Nuisance Control Officer

Brent Council
£38,040 - £40,086 p.a. inc. + £4,800 shift allowance p.a.
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Rights of Way Search Officer - Highways Services

Bridgend County Borough Council
£7,188 - £7,327 per annum
We are seeking someone to assist in maintaining, developing and promoting the Definitive Map for Bridgend Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recuriter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Countryside Access Maintenance Officer - Highways Services

Bridgend County Borough Council
£12,644 - £13,015 per annum
We are seeking someone to assist in ensuring that the local rights of way network is protected, well maintained and enjoyed... Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recuriter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Principal Transport Officer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£37,320 to £40,198
The role will require close dialogue with developers and their agents and necessitate strong partnership working with District Councils... Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Project Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
up to £33,136
Are you a qualified Highways Project Engineer? Would you like to work in the famous James Herriot area of natural beauty? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Highways Officer Highways and Transport

North Yorkshire County Council
£28,2281 p.a.
Are you someone who is looking to progress their career with one of the most highly regarded highway services in the country? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Regional Strategy Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
Band 15 – up to £41,846
Are you an experienced Transport Planner? Do you have exceptional communication skills to build relationships within teams? North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Area Manager

North Yorkshire County Council
up to £53,113 p.a. winter allowance plus 10% one off additional payment for exceptional candidates
Four Area Highway Managers roles available York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Transport Planning Officer – Major Development Applications

Somerset County Council
£33,136 to £37,107
We have a fantastic opportunity in Somerset within our Highways Development Management team. Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset County Council