Cuts blamed for worsening of Scotland’s potholed roads

Potholes are getting deeper. Picture: Jon Savage
Potholes are getting deeper. Picture: Jon Savage
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Improvements to the state of Scotland’s potholed roads have been reversed with many now deteriorating further, the latest official figures show.

Up to 39 per cent of non-trunk roads were in need of repair in 2013-15, according to a survey by local authority transport chiefs.

The proportion of roads “which should be considered for maintenance treatment” is up to two percentage points worse than in 2011-13 – when they last improved.

The Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland, which compiled the figures, said in 2013 it was optimistic that the previous long-term decline had been stemmed.

However, councils blamed the latest deterioration on “significant” spending reductions, and a motoring group feared the situation could get even worse with threatened further cuts.

B roads suffered the biggest decline, with 36.1 per cent needing repairs in 2013-15 – almost 1 percentage point more than in 2012-14. C class roads were 0.7 percentage points worse at 37.3 per cent, while A roads were 0.3 percentage points worse at 29 per cent.

Unclassified roads were in the worst state, with 39.3 per cent needing work, although this was a 0.1 percentage points improvement.

By contrast, separately-compiled figures for trunk roads, such as the M8 and A9, showed just 13 per cent were in a “poor” condition in 2014-15.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists said roads were so vital they must be protected from further cuts.

Neil Greig, its Scotland-based policy and research director, said: “Things were getting better for A roads, but that has reversed. It’s a worrying trend, made even more so by the talk of even more cuts.

“All council services ultimately need a reliable local road network, so roads budgets require some degree of protection. Fixing the roads is consistently the top priority in driver surveys and that must be reflected in setting spending priorities.”

A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said: “Councils have managed their services well despite a £350 million cut in Scottish Government grants.

“Roads need a long-term solution and there is no quick fix, but it is up to local authorities to prioritise spending on local needs.”