Roads minister Jesse Norman wants to introduce a five-year funding plan for local roads maintenance, similar to the road investment strategy (RIS) covering Highways England’s trunk road network, LGC’s sister title New Civil Engineer reports.
Speaking at Highways UK last week, Mr Norman said the government was committed to smaller roads, following on from promises made during the Budget.
He said that his department was currently drawing up a business case on how a five-year funding cycle would work. However, Mr Norman did not provide a date as to when the plans might be published.
“This year has already been a remarkable period for the future of roads in the UK,” Mr Norman said. “[The] Budget was a very important indicator of the level of support and commitment this government in helping create the road network this country deserves – this was monumental budget for road transport.
“That is why in the coming years I want to go even further than the spending outlined in this budget, to move towards a transparent and strategic five-year settlement for local highways maintenance.”
The plan mooted by Mr Norman is similar to the five-year RIS funding periods which are currently in place for the strategic road network. The first RIS plan is due to end in 2020, followed by RIS 2.
Mr Norman said that local roads held immense social and communal value, and as such were an important asset the country needed to invest in.
“I absolutely understand the importance of local roads, their importance to local communities and social value, as well as treating them as what they are: one of the country’s most valuable assets,” he said.
The proposed local roads funding periods will be guided by local councils and experts, Mr Norman added.
“There is massive untapped energy at all local levels,” he said. “We are not imposing schemes on people. We want to listen to people on the ground in local councils, enterprise partnerships, local institutions and companies and to be guided by them.”