West Berkshire Council

Start date: 2016-10-31
End date: 2016-12-11
Results: 2017-03-09

[ARCHIVED] Budget Proposal 2017/18: Highway and Drainage Maintenance

Reducing the amount we spend on road patching and drainage repair and maintenance


This is one of seven budget proposals for 2017/18. You can view the full list online.

Under the 1980 Highways Act we, as a Highway Authority, have a duty to maintain the local road network, which extends to some 1,280km.

To achieve this, we have a revenue works budget of around £2.5m, covering activities such as patching, drainage repairs, gully emptying, bridge maintenance, winter gritting and dealing with highway emergencies such as flooding, road traffic accidents, fallen trees and other storm or adverse weather damage.

This year's budget for highway maintenance was reduced by £552,000 as part of the 2016/17 budget setting.

We have a team of officers and a Term Maintenance contract with Volker Highways Ltd in place to deliver the full range of highway maintenance services. This contract commenced on 1 October 2016, following a competitive tendering exercise, and will run for the next seven years, possibly up to 10 years depending upon contractor performance.

Legislation requirements

Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980 places a duty on us, as the Highway Authority, to maintain highways maintainable at public expense.

What are we proposing?

To reduce the following areas of expenditure:

  % of Budget
Road patching£200,00050%
Drainage repair and maintenance£200,00058%
Total Reduction£400,00054%

What do we think the impact will be?

Making a further £200,000 reduction in road repairs is likely to impact on the condition of the highway network, especially on the rural 'non-designed' roads. Currently we undertake permanent pothole repairs in line with national guidance. A further reduction in budget should still enable permanent repairs to be completed to keep the main running surface of local roads in a safe condition, but it will not be possible to complete any permanent edge repairs. This will result in an increase in emergency temporary repairs and potentially an increase in potholes caused by these less permanent patching repairs.

It should also be noted that if the weather deteriorates (after two recent mild winters) then additional road damage is likely to occur. Under those circumstances the remaining budget is only likely to be sufficient to allow permanent repairs on a prioritised basis and other potholes will simply be plugged. This will be a departure from the recommendations given in the Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) Pothole Review in April 2012 which promotes an ethos of 'right first time'.

Reducing the drainage repairs and maintenance budget by a further £200,000 is also likely to have a negative impact on the structural integrity of the road network, especially in locations where there are no formal drainage systems as water will remain on the road surface for longer periods.  Standing surface water on the road network following heavy rainfall will become more frequent. 

Please refer to the pdf icon Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for more detail. [67kb]

What else have we considered in arriving at our proposal?

Given the duty on us to maintain our road network (including a duty to 'ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow and ice'), it is difficult to find areas for savings that do not impact on this duty. We are mindful that our capital spend on resurfacing roads has increased in recent years and overall, road condition has improved.  This may mean a reduced demand on revenue maintenance budgets in future, although this will also be dependent on weather conditions.

Why we would like your views

We would like to hear from you as to how this proposal could potentially impact on you and on the wider community. In particular, we would be interested in any views you have on how we can minimise the impact of this proposed change.

All feedback will be considered, and a final decision made by Full Council at the meeting on 2 March 2017. Following this, the results and your anonymised response will be published on this page.

Please note: Twitter and Facebook posts will not be considered as a valid response.

This consultation is now closed.


What you told us

We received 64 responses to this consultation. Full details of the responses, considerations and recommendations can be seen below:

What we did

A recommendation on how to proceed with this proposal was made to the Full Council Meeting on 2 March 2017. This can also be found in the Overview of Responses and Recommendations below.

At the vote, Councillors agreed to proceed with this proposal.

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