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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 18th April, 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Visible and Building Services

 

Funding Arrangements - Highway Assets

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To seek Cabinet approval to utilise funding from Visible Services' reserves to continue to address the backlog of highway repairs, and to inform of other funding arrangements that will assist in addressing this ongoing problem.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet approve the use of £750k from the Visible Services reserve for the 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial periods.

2.             That Cabinet note the £190,840 capital funding provided by Welsh Government for 2011/12, the current position with the Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP), and the implications of the recently announced 'Local Government Borrowing Initiative' (LGBI) for highway assets for the 2012/15 period.

3.             That this report be forwarded to the Corporate Resources and Economy & Environment Scrutiny Committees for information.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To continue to assist in funding the significant increase in the number of highway repairs necessary since the severe winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11.

2.             To ensure that Cabinet are kept fully informed on these matters.

3.             To advise the relevant Scrutiny Committees of the current and future positions for highway asset funding.

Background

2.             The backlog of highway resurfacing has almost doubled since 2009/10, despite significant spending in this area over the period. The main cause of this has been a national under investment in highway repairs over the past 20 years, further exacerbated by the severe winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11.

3.             Cabinet previously agreed the Highway Resurfacing Plan for 2011-2014 (22nd June 2011, Min C1354 refers). In consideration of this report the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee of 31st July 2011, requested a further report be presented (Min 371 refers).

Relevant Issues and Options

Highway Surfaces - Current Position

4.             Appendix 1 to this report details the funding arrangements for highway resurfacing and repairs (in respect of both Welsh Government and Council budgets) for the period 2007/08 to 2011/12. The total budget (Capital and Revenue) for resurfacing and road repairs stands at £2.411m for the 2011 / 12 financial year.  This includes an additional one off budget of £900k made available from departmental savings last year and a capital grant of £190,840, received by Welsh Government in December 2011. 

5.             Additionally it is proposed that Cabinet agree to an additional funding amount from the Visible Services reserve of £150k for the previous financial year 2011/2012 (making £300k in total, £150k already included in the £2.411m figure shown in the paragraph above).  It is also proposed that Cabinet approve the use of £450k in 2012/13 to ensure continuing improvement to the highway network.  It is testament to the efforts of this Council in seeking to address this ongoing highway problem, particularly in light of the considerable competing demands for funding in all other service areas. 

6.             Cabinet will be aware of the introduction of the 3 year Highway Maintenance Resurfacing Plan. The costs of the Plan since inception have unfortunately continued to rise due to additional roads requiring attention and the pace of this deterioration being greater than that of repair. This Plan has proved invaluable in ensuring that the relevant highways receive the most appropriate forms of surface treatment and at the correct time.

7.             The table in Appendix 2 details the value of the 3 year Resurfacing Plan from its introduction, to date.  Cabinet should note that the Plan, whilst providing specific 'Vale wide' details, is not exhaustive.  There are roads that will require inclusion but have not yet been identified by the 'SCANNER' (WG inspection system) or our visual inspection processes. As roads naturally deteriorate they will ultimately find their way onto the Plan over time.

8.             The 'SCANNER' survey has to date generally been undertaken on Class A and B roads with only some C class roads included.  There are limitations on the use of this survey method due to the width of road required for the vehicle and the speed it has to travel to collect the data. The Scanner is not effective under the following conditions:

·               Travelling less than 20mph

·               Road width less than 3.2 metres

·               Less than 150 metres in length (urban) 250 metres in length (rural)

·               Roads with grass in the centre

9.             The results from the previous 3 years data of 'SCANNER' survey can be found in Appendix 3.  The data is submitted to the Welsh Government and is also utilised to demonstrate the Council's position in relation to performance indicators on road conditions.

10.        Cabinet will note that the 'SCANNER' survey results show an increase in the red defective areas of A, B and C class roads with most notably C class having twice the level of defective roads from 2008/09 to 2010/11 (notwithstanding the fact that the proportion of class 'C' roads has been less than that of both class 'A' and 'B').

11.        Additionally, despite all the investment, the value of the Council's 3 Year Highway Maintenance Plan has continued to increase year upon year from its inception in 2009 / 10 when the total stood at £2.36m.  The 2011 / 12 Plan now stands at a value of £4.17m.

Highway Asset Management Planning (HAMP)

12.        As part of the Road Maintenance Grant from the Welsh Government in 2010/11, an amount of £300k was set aside to undertake highways asset assessments across Wales. The initiative was lead by the County Surveyors Society, Wales (CSS) and through a contract set up by Newport Council, EXP Consulting were appointed to deliver on this initiative.

13.        The Highways Asset Management Plan (HAMP) commenced in May 2010 with regular workshops held on an area basis working on a number of asset management models tailored for each Authority.  The models include Highway Deterioration Modelling, Cost Protection and Valuation, Budget Profiling and Risk Management and including Life Cycle Cost Analysis.  Additionally Performance Indicators to an all Wales standard will be developed.

14.        The production of the new Vale of Glamorgan Highways Asset Management Plan is underway with the first four chapters complete and sent to EXP Consulting.  This will contribute to the annual report to be submitted to Welsh Government on Highway Asset Data Management.

15.        Welsh Government continues to support HAMP across Wales and has provided a further £500k funding for the 2011 / 12 financial year.  Part of this funding (approx. £14k per Authority) is for the setting up of systems for the collection of footway condition data.  This is currently an area where there is very little data available with only one Council in Wales having undertaken this work.

16.        The Vale of Glamorgan Footway Condition project commenced in September 2011 defining a survey method and the training of the Highway Inspectors to collect the footway condition data.

17.        The Welsh Government has stipulated the level of footway condition data to be provided by all Councils in Wales and this is as follows:

5% by October 2011

Already submitted

25% by October 2012

 

50% by October 2013

 

100% by October 2014

 

 

The report will provide a comprehensive understanding of footway condition across Wales and allow Welsh Government to determine the backlog of work for each Authority. Importantly, for the Vale of Glamorgan, this information will assist officers in preparing accurate and timely footway repair and refurbishment schedules, the demands for which can then be compared with that of other highway assets (such as road re-surfacing and highway structures).   

Future Funding Arrangements

18.        On 31st January 2012 the Welsh Government approved £4million of revenue grant funding for the 2012/13 financial year.  A copy of the letter of confirmation is attached at Appendix 4.  This funding is for a 22 year period and is being provided to allow local authorities to free up their own resources for prudential borrowing up to an expected aggregate total of £170million across Wales.  This being exclusively for capital highway improvement investment.  The allocation for the Vale of Glamorgan for the 2012/13 period is £151,813.  The funding provided over the 22 year period will enable the Vale of Glamorgan to prudentially borrow £6.7m over the 3 year period 2012/13 to 2014/15.  A full note of the Local Government Borrowing Initiative (LGBI) funding process can be found at Appendix 5.

19.        The LGBI is supported by the submission of a Business Justification Case (BJC) and a copy of the BJC submitted by the Vale of Glamorgan can be found in Appendix 6  The BJC contains such pertinent information relating to the delivery of the project to be funded through the LGBI process.

20.        New groups have been formed within the Regional Transport Consortia (RTC) with members from CSS (Wales) entitled "Highways Engineering Services Group".  The South East Wales Transport Alliance (SEWTA) has such a group and the Council's Operational Manager for Highways and Engineering is a member of this group.  The remit of these newly established forums will be to provide expert advice to the RTC's and ultimately confirm project assurance in line with the proposed new funding opportunity from the Welsh Government.

21.        The BJC submission for the Vale of Glamorgan has been agreed by the Highways Engineering Services Group and has been signed off by the Council's S.151 officer.  This will allow the funding release for the 2012/13 period from the Welsh Government. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

22.        Financial issues have largely been dealt with in the body of this report.  Cabinet in particular are however asked to note the significant spend on highway repairs during 2011/12, and the circa. £6.7m that the LGBI will release over the next three years for improving the Council's highway assets.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

23.        The Council has a duty as Highway Authority to maintain the highway pursuant to the Highways Act 1980.

Crime and Disorder Implications

24.        None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

25.        None.

Corporate/Service Objectives

26.        The issues contained in this report assist in improving the environment and the quality of life for residents of and visitors to the Vale of Glamorgan. This contributes to the Corporate Objective of environmental improvement and economic regeneration.

Policy Framework and Budget

27.        This report is a matter for Executive Decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

28.        Issues affect all wards so no individual Member consultation has taken place.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29.        Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Andrew Loosemore, Operational Manager Highways and Engineering Tel. No: 02920 673200.

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Legal Services

Accountant Visible and Building Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick, Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration

 

 

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