Following the General Election, Chairman Christopher Chope welcomed members and guests to the inaugural AGM of the Group in this Parliament. The election of the Officers of the Group en bloc was proposed by Dr Lewis and seconded by Andrew Bridgen and carried unanimously. Full minutes of the AGM available here.
Malcolm Simms, technical director of the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) presented a review of current issues facing local authority highway teams in light of the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey 2017 and the recently published Transport Investment Strategy document (DfT July 2017).
Malcolm outlined that the DfT’s proposals are understood to involve the redirection of funds to be raised from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) to local roads. If implemented, main roads overseen by local authorities could get a share of the VED-funded National Roads Fund. Previously it was set out that this funding stream – announced in the 2015 budget – would be ring-fenced for the strategic road network (SRN) managed by Highways England.
In addition, the proposals include the setting up of a Major Roads Network (MRN) recognising that ‘local authority A roads are strategically important to the economic wellbeing of the regions and the country as a whole’. Malcolm concluded that, at this early stage in the proposals, industry believes a move towards a MRN would only be of benefit to local authorities and road users if it represented additional funds over current levels. It would be deemed counter-productive if prioritising funds on key routes led to the rest of the network deteriorating at an even faster rate.
The meeting agreed with the Chairman’s proposal that the APPG would respond formally to the forthcoming DfT consultation on its Transport Investment Strategy in relation to creating a “Major Roads Network”.