Councils on the right road and doing well with less

No one is arguing that local roads are perfect and cannot be improved, but at a time of austerity and rising demand for services the fact that today’s report has shown that the quality of local roads has been maintained should be seen as a success COSLA’s Stephen Hagan said today (Thursday). 

Councillor Hagan said: 

"Scotland’s Councils engage daily with their communities so they know just how important the state of the roads is to the public.  The reality of the situation is that Scotland’s councils have done a good job with less resource in keeping the roads to a decent standard.

"It is clear that some councils, despite the financial challenges, have chosen to invest in road quality while others, for perfectly valid reasons, have chosen to spend scarce resource on other vital services.

"However, simply measuring pounds spent on roads maintenance is a poor proxy measure for quality – something which the report admits. They make clear that other factors, not least remoteness, historic investment patterns and winter weather all play a part in determining local road quality.  

"Despite this the report has several tables and graphs which compare directly the financial investment made by councils.  Local government is all for transparency but comparing councils in this way is not helpful and masks the good work that councils are doing, namely as the report acknowledges, that councils are delivering greater service efficiency and that councils are adapting their road maintenance to meet the financial reality. 

"COSLA is a supporter of shared services where they can deliver improvements, but we are also clear they are not a ‘silver bullet’ in every case.  It is perfectly possible for councils to deliver good services with or without collaboration with their neighbours and this becomesclear if you read the report in some detail. Work on roads collaboration is continuing but should not be viewed as a panacea for challenges faced by local authorities. 

Councillor Hagan concluded: 

“Overall this report contains some good information and analysis but you have to work to find it. The overall conclusions gloss over a complex picture and imply that councils are not prioritising roads. We reject this inference utterly. The truth of the matter is that local government faces huge challenges on maintaining or improving road quality, but there are no easy solutions.” 

Article published: 
Wed, 03/08/2016 - 23:00