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The funding system is broken – ADEPT calls for an end to ‘sticking plaster’ funding

The funding system is broken – ADEPT calls for an end to ‘sticking plaster’ funding

In the wake of last week’s budget, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has called for a systematic change to funding local roads maintenance.

Launched at Highways UK today, its position paper on local highways maintenance calls for sustainable long term funding.

ADEPT has made it clear that, although the recent budget announcement from Chancellor, Philip Hammond, is welcome, it offers little to support long-term planning. 

ADEPT President Neil Gibson said: “The current system is broken. We have to stop trying to plaster over the cracks with short-term handouts and uncoordinated funding streams. 

“For some time now, the 300,000km of local roads have been treated as a poor relation to the 7,000km Strategic Roads Network.  The recent £420million announcement for repairs is welcomed, but it maintains the ‘sticking plaster’ approach that does little to tackle the fundamental issues faced by local highways authorities. 

“Most journeys start and finish on local roads. Communities and businesses need reliable, efficient and well-maintained roads that are vital for economic growth. 

We recognise the good work the Department for Transport (DfT) has already done in developing an asset management approach, but the Government needs to go further and deliver funding mechanisms that support ‘place’.

ADEPT considers effective asset management to be the central plank of well-maintained roads alongside long-term funding and investment in digital innovation. Its DfT-funded  £25million SMART Places research programme, in partnership with, SNC-Lavalin’sAtkins business, EY, Kier, O2, and Ringway illustrates the Association’s commitment to delivering new technology across local roads.

The paper also examines the role of the private sector and is calling for a more innovative approach to procurement and is working with its corporate partners to create better value for money through increased collaboration.

Mark Stevens, Chair of ADEPT’s Engineering Board said: ”The challenges facing the local roads network are significant. There has been an increase of over 2.5 million more vehicles on the roads in the last five years, and this trend is set to continue.[1]

The more extreme weather we have seen this year, with the ‘Beast from the East’ and higher than normal temperatures in the early summer, as well as the £9.3 million repairs backlog, all add to the pressure on road quality.[2]

“The DfT’s Road Investment Strategy (2014) recognised how sustainable investment in roads maintenance makes economic and environmental sense, but centrally imposed spending cuts lead to inevitable continued deterioration. At national level, this disconnect is the heart of the problem.

“We want to work closely with the DfT and the wider industry on how to make real, effective change in how we tackle the critical issue of maintaining local roads. In challenging times, it will take a whole-sector approach to examine each aspect - from funding mechanisms and delivery through to innovation, procurement and technology.”

Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation said: “The shortcomings of the current administrative and funding arrangements for the local roads that make up the vast majority of our highway network are well understood by those in the sector, but remain a mystery to most of the road users who depend on them. Local roads are hugely important, not just for motorists but for our logistics and distribution industries, and for business-to-business traffic. As concern about the state of our roads mounts year-by-year so too does the case for taking a fundamental look at what could be done to ensure our local roads provide the service we need from them.”

The ADEPT Autumn conference will discuss how to deliver an integrated, resilient road network as well as the development of the SMART Places Programme.

To download a copy of the policy position click here and for more information on the conference and ADEPT, visit 


[2]Asphalt Industry Association Annual Local Authority Roads Maintenance (ALARM) survey

The ADEPT Highways Maintenance Policy Position can be downloaded from the ADEPT website 

The ADEPT Strategic Plan can be downloaded here:



The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) represents local authority county, unitary and metropolitan Directors. Operating at the strategic tier of local government, members are responsible for delivering public services that primarily relate to the physical environment and the economy, but which have a significant impact on all aspects of the nation’s well-being.ADEPT represents members' interests by proactively engaging central Government on emerging policy & issues, promoting initiatives aimed at influencing Government policy and through the development of best practices and responding to European and UK Government initiatives and consultations. Our wider membership includes Local Enterprise Partnerships and Corporate Partners.


For more information on ADEPT please visit the website:

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