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Fix It First

Scotland’s roads are in a dreadful state

Scottish roads are considered to be amongst the worst in the UK.[1] Road markings are deteriorating, pavements are damaged, and potholes are all too common. This often results in pedestrian, cyclist and motorist accidents as well as expensive repair costs.

Councils throughout Scotland are paying out millions in compensation for accidents caused by poorly maintained roads and paths. Payments to compensate drivers for pothole damage cost Scottish councils £1.2 million in 2011/12 alone,[2] and compensation for pedestrian trips on pavements amounts to £1 million every year.[3] Whether we travel by foot, bike, bus, car or lorry, the road network’s ability to move people and goods around the country efficiently and safely directly benefits all in our society.

Why aren’t they being fixed?

There’s certainly no shortage of money in the Government’s roads budget, it’s just being spent on the wrong thing. All of Scotland’s roads could be fixed for £2.25 billion.[4] That’s a lot of money — but it’s only a small share of the £9 billion it plans to spend on new roads.

Over the past five years, the Government’s roads budget has increased by 40%. Despite this, there has been an ongoing failure to tackle the road maintenance backlog. Instead priority has been given to new and sometimes unnecessary roads. We estimate the Scottish Government’s road-building commitments on its major trunk road projects to be around £9 billion; however, this is not an exhaustive list of its road-building commitments:

  • A9 dualling — £3 billion
  • A96 dualling — £3 billion
  • Forth Replacement Crossing — £1.462 billion
  • Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route — £745 million
  • M8/M73/M74 bundle — £588 million
  • A82 — £200 million

We want the Government to ‘Fix It First!’

We want to see investment focused on fixing our existing roads, cycle paths and pavements ahead of building more roads. And it’s not just us: 84% of Scots agree that priority should be given to fixing the existing road network. Scotland is calling on its Government to ‘Fix It First!’

Fixing our existing roads would benefit everyone in our society. Not only do safe, well-maintained roads contribute to fewer accidents and repair costs, they can have wider economic and environmental impacts.

Repairing our existing road infrastructure would be of huge economic benefit to the Scottish economy as small local firms could carry out the work rather than the large overseas construction consortiums who currently have the monopoly of the new road building contracts.

Not one of the four companies that comprise the consortium for the construction of the ‘Forth Replacement Crossing‘ — Scotland’s largest construction project — is headquartered in Scotland. Furthermore, none of the contract bidders for the ‘Aberdeen Western Bypass’ project are Scottish companies.

What’s more, new roads create new traffic! Transport is the only major sector where climate emissions have flatlined rather than declined. This is one of the main reasons the Government has missed its legal requirements under the Scottish climate change act. Halting new road building will help tackle the giant problem of climate change and put the Government on the right path to achieving these targets.

What can you do?

Visit our ‘Fix It First’ minisite

Report your local street problems on Fix My Street

or on the CTC’s FillThatHole.org.uk

Add your photos to Pimp My Pothole!

References:

[1] AA Streetwatch road condition surveys. Available at https://www.theaa.com/newsroom/news-2013/road-condition-alarm-survey.html

[2] Audit Scotland report ‘Maintaining Scotland’s Roads’ (May 2013). Available at http://www.accounts-commission.gov.uk/work/all_national.php?year=2013

[3] Living Streets news release ‘Declining investment on our pavements will cost more in health bills’ (7 April 2014). Available at http://www.livingstreets.org.uk/declining-investment-on-our-pavements-will-cost-more-in-health-bills#sthash.bsJNPlNk.dpuf

[4] Audit Scotland report ‘Maintaining Scotland’s Roads: a follow-up report’ (Feb 2011). Available at http://www.accounts-commission.gov.uk/work/all_national.php?year=2010