Around a third of Scotland’s roads are in need of repair, an investigation has revealed.
The report found that around 30 per cent of A-roads in Scotland between 2015 and 2017 were classed as red or amber, which means they were either earmarked for inspection or definitely required work, while on B-roads, the figure rose to 35 per cent.
The figure was far higher than in England, where only 3 per cent of A roads and 5 per cent of minor roads were classified as being in a poor condition, although the data is collected in a different way.
A total of 2,220 kilometres of A-road in Scotland was in need of repairs, the analysis found, while a further 2,571 of B-road required attention.
However, while the amount spent on local roads per head of population in Scotland over the past five years totalled £657.61, the UK average expenditure is just £436 per head, while the per-head figure for national roads of £621.46 in Scotland, was almost twice the UK average of £312 per head.
The BBC’s Shared Data Unit analysed eight years of public data from the National Improvement Service for Local Government in Scotland. The areas of Scotland with roads potentially needing repairs across all classifications are Argyll and Bute, Eilean Siar, North Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Stirling.
Experts said that Scotland’s bad winter weather was to blame for the worse condition of roads north of the Border.
Luke Bosdet, public affairs spokesman for the AA, said: “The poor condition of Scottish roads comes as no surprise. It is a long-running problem, often illustrated by the views of AA members. Pothole location will be dictated by a number of factors, such as amount and type of traffic, amount and standard of roadworks, and nature of the road.
“As for Scotland, I don’t think they really know where to start. Filling potholes with recycled plastic bottles and bags (which one assumes will leak plastic particles into the drains) just smacks of desperation.”
Gareth Howell, executive managing director at AXA Insurance, said: “While we don’t have specific data relating to the condition of roads across the UK, from our experience it makes sense that roads in Scotland need more work as they tend to have colder and wetter weather, which damages the road surface. At the same time, even though there are more roads in need of work in Scotland compared to England, there are fewer drivers and less traffic compared to say, the south east of England, so we don’t see an increase in the proportion of claims in the area.”
In Argyll and Bute, 45 per cent of roads were classed as amber or red, while in the Western isles, 44 per cent needed repair. In West Lothian, however, the figure was only 18 per cent.
The Scottish Government has responsibility for trunk roads in Scotland, with the maintenance of local roads the domain of local authorities. Politicians warned that council’s road maintenance budget had been cut by the government.
Colin Smyth, Scottish Labour’s rural economy and connectivity spokeman, said: “Local authorities have been forced to pass on SNP government cuts by slashing the road maintenance budget by 21 per cent since 2011.”
Jamie Greene, Scottish Conservative transport spokesman, said: “Whilst this small improvement is welcome it is still shocking that around 30 per cent of main roads in Scotland are in need of repair.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the government was “committed to the largest road investment programme that Scotland has ever seen”, citing projects including the dualling of the A9 and the Queensferry Crossing. He said: “We fully recognise the importance of a safe and reliable trunk road network and the budget for maintenance for the roads we look after has increased by around £65 million to £433m in 2018/2019.
“A recent Audit Scotland report found 87 per cent of trunk roads are in an acceptable condition. In times of financial constraint we are making significant efforts to maximise every penny that is spent on maintenance and our Road Asset Management Plan sets out how we prioritise maintenance.”