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Calls for new vision and funding for the Local Highway Network

02 April 2020


The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) has released a new report, Improving Local Highways – the route to a better future, that shows how the Local Highway Network (LHN) can be fundamentally improved for users through a four-point strategy.

CIHT is calling for the government to commit to deliver this strategy by creating a vision, funding and focus over the next ten years. The report details these four key recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1: Create a new focus for the LHN

  • Recommendation 2: Commit to establishing an inflation-linked local highways fund

  • Recommendation 3: Create a better understanding of the asset through improved data

  • Recommendation 4: Establish new sources of funding to support the local highways fund 

The specific recommendations for funding include:

  • The need to establish a new inflation-linked local highways fund (on top of the current funding); creation of an improved system of monitoring and a national condition database.

  • Establish a 10-year additional funding settlement (should be additional to the current annual capital and revenue funding that local authorities receive for highway maintenance) of £15 billion TOTEX to address the maintenance backlog

  • Agree a 10-year local highways fund - leading to improved efficiencies and effectiveness in the management and maintenance of the LHN, including incentivisation to deliver wider outcomes for people and society (would allow maintenance to facilitate active travel, supporting the decarbonisation agenda whilst improving peoples’ health)

  • Allocate an initial £7.5 billion from the fund for the first five years, distributed to local authorities on a yearly increasing basis as a new national asset conditions dataset is introduced

  • Allocate a further £7.5 billion from the fund for the second five-year period, with distribution taking account of local authority performance, asset conditions, road function and increasing length.

Sue Percy CBE, Chief Executive, CIHT said: 'Everyone depends on the UK’s network of local highways; they are at the heart of our communities and these arteries of our country need to be invested in to ensure fitness to compete in the global economy. Despite the efforts of central and local government, the LHN is not in a good state and not up to the job of supporting the country’s ambitions for the future.

'The recent budget highlighted the importance of the highway network for the UK’s economy and the Chancellor outlined a number of commitments to the strategic and local highway network.'

She added: The budget contained detail on a new £2.5bn ‘pothole fund’ but we believe that this investment whilst welcome, will not fully address the funding requirement and the ageing of the asset will continue to create more challenges. Without a new strategy, the LHN cannot help businesses to increase productivity, realise their economic opportunities and deliver what the nation needs for a sustainable future.

In the Budget statement, the government indicated that, in the spring, they will publish a National Infrastructure Strategy which will set out plans for a transformation of the UK’s economic infrastructure. This announcement is a clear response to our calls for the government to provide the vision and certainty for the sector on highways and transportation projects and programmes.

CIHT believe that through the recommendations outlined in ‘Improving Local Highways’, we can show how the highway network will support the delivery of a carbon-neutral system, create sustainable, green, resilient, and accessible places, make transport healthier, and help the economy grow. 

CIHT believe these recommendations should be used by Government as they consider the CSR in relation to the local highway network and the key role that it plays, said Percy.

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