CIHT Improving Local Roads- an update

14th Mar 2019

At CIHT’s Annual Conference, Matthew Lugg, President, CIHT outlined the latest developments for the improving local roads review. Matthew said: “Improving Local Highways is starting to provide a framework for government on how we can provide sustainable solutions to change the way we deliver local highway maintenance. We must improve the proliferation of pot-holes we see across the UK and improve the delivery of our transport services to people.” “The review is highlighting real opportunities for us to look at how we can change the way we not only deliver and maintain local highway roads but also how we can operate as a sustainable sector in the future.”


The review up to date has included a survey responded to by over 150 representatives of the highways and transportation sector.

The key themes that have come out of the review are:

  • The local highway network (LHN) requires improvement
  • The LHN is a vital, under researched resource
  • We must change our approach to the LHN
  • Governance requires reform

The next stage of the review sees CIHT calling for more evidence including case studies and examples of best practice to take the initial findings forward and finalise recommendations. To find out more please click here LINK or contact e:

Improving Local Highways: the latest findings

1) Why improve the Local Highway Network?

  • Every person, public service and business depends on the LHN
  • The LHN is seen as a problem not an enabler
  • Improving the service

The LHN accounts for 98% of England’s total road length, carries around two-thirds of all traffic, virtually all walking and cycling trips and most of the taxi and bus traffic.
Government acknowledges the importance of the LHN, but often seems unclear on how to tackle the challenges it faces.

Public perception is low and its poor condition leads to safety issues and claims for personal and property damage.

The LHN is complex, its full benefits are not understood and therefore it is not managed or funded appropriately
98% of our survey thought it would be useful to change our approach and there was an opportunity to consider alongside reforms to the Strategic Road Network and Major Road Network.

2) We require a better understanding of what we have and what is needed

  • Vital to accurately know current state of all the highway infrastructure assets and be able to effectively monitor their condition
  • Have a clear understanding of what needs to be done to get to and maintain that condition

This is not just about roads, but we need improved data on condition for footways, cycleways, drainage, structures and carriageways. This would assist us in identifying the clarity of the investment need and its timescales.

3) What we need to change: Change the way we fund the LHN

  • 9 out of 10 said funding for the local highway network should be ring fenced
  • 7 out of 10 support TOTEX funding
  • 5 out of 10 said there should be some form of pay as you go funding
  • 96% said that we should change the way Utilities pay for the impact of their works
  • >8 out 10 said allow Roads Fund to be used for LHN
  • 95% - provide certainty of funding for 5 years or a longer period

4) What we need to change: Change how we understand condition

  • >9 out 10 said we should have a standard approach to collect condition data
  • 96% - we should have a standard approach to calculate backlog
  • Do local highway authorities have enough information on the condition of highway assets for the benefit of all users?

5) What we need to change: Change how we organise looking after the LHN

  • 98% said useful for government to consider changes now
  • 7 out of 10 said reduce the number of highway authorities
  • Several models have been identified for initial review and discussion.
  • 65% - 1st & 2nd preference Existing highway authorities formally link with other highway authorities (e.g. Combined Authorities)

6) Governance

There are opportunities to create more efficient & effective highway authorities by

  • Incentivising greater geographic collaboration particularly authorities across combined authorities and London
  • Giving combined authorities full highway powers
  • Review other areas where there are clusters of small highway authorities
  • Potentially moving to a minimum sustainable size of highway authority of not less than 5,000 km

Review the Highways Act 1980

  • To make it more relevant and fit for purpose

Review NRSWA legislation

  • To ensure utilities pay the true cost of damage to highway infrastructure their openings cause

A full version of Matthew’s presentation will appear on this site soon. If you want to get involved in the review, please contact e: or see here for more information.

Recent technical press coverage on the announcement can be found below.

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