Cutting road maintenace budgets is a false economy

Cutting road maintenance budgets and opting for a make do and mend approach is simply storing up larger problems for the future, according to the Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA).

The RSTA response comes after a warning from the National Audit Office (NAO) that proposed road maintenance budget cuts will ultimately cost more than they save.

The NAO warning is contained in a report on the Department for Transport’s (DfT) budget cuts, which were made following the 2010 spending review and set a transport budget 15% lower for 2014-15 compared with 2010-11.

As a consequence, the Highways Agency alone will see a budget reduction of £1.23bn being made to national and local road maintenance.

Howard Robinson, chief executive of RSTA, says: “With reducing benefits the DfT and local authorities need to understand and emphasise the benefits of properly funded long-term maintenance. This offers far better value than short-term patch-and-mend.”

The association says that while it costs around £2 per m² to surface dress and maintain a road, the cost of repairing pot holes is closer to £75 per m².

Cutting funding on road maintenance is a false economy and will result in significantly increased future costs for the national and local highway authorities,” says Robinson.

A recent survey by the AA found the UK’s roads were in a worse state now than a year ago.

Maritime Transport pays out £100,000 in driver bonuses

Drivers at Maritime Transport are to receive bonus’s totalling some £100,000 as the operator pays out its third round of driver incentives in a row.

Over the last three years drivers at the Felixstowe-headquartered firm have received safety bonus payments totalling some £250,000. Top drivers at Maritime will get an additional £600 in their December pay packets, in time for Christmas.

The operator will also issue some £30,000 in fuel bonus. Maritime introduced a fuel bonus scheme in 2006 and a safety bonus in 2007  rewarding drivers with the highest levels of fuel economy and safety.

John Williams, MD of Maritime, says: “These have been three tough years, so it is something for a company to write out a cheque. The company did not have to do this but we should, because our employees need to be part of what we are doing .”

Maritime drivers, according to Williams, have developed a deep understanding of the whole life cycle of the vehicles in Maritime’s fleet.

“We buy the biggest horse power with the biggest cabs and we know we need to sell them in three years time. Our drivers understand this.”

Maritime has also seen a fall in its insurance premium levels as a result of the behaviour of its drivers, and part of the bonus is passing on this cost saving.

Business development director Andrew McNab says: “We are handling in excess of 8,000 movements a week. It is a very intense, performance-driven operation and it is crucial that we do things safely and efficiently. Our low no claims record is now highly respected by the insurance market.”

“Over the last 10 years, with the support of our drivers, we have created a culture which has enabled us to become one of the best performing transport operators in the UK,” Williams adds.