Council’s struggle over highways demand
A council official has opened up on the huge challenge Cardiff Council has on its hands to keep the city’s roads and pavements in good condition.
Cardiff Council’s head of highways, Gary Brown, spoke at a Cardiff Council environmental scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday May 11 where members were being briefed on how the local authority is managing its highway services.
In a report which was presented to members of the scrutiny committee, it was revealed that over 5,800 requests were made for the council’s highway services in 2022.
Council data in the same report also showed that the majority of these requests (44%) related to roads and more than a quarter were related to pavements (26%).
As well as an increase in demand for services, Mr Brown said the council’s highways team is facing an increase in costs and external pressures – including traffic growth, the increasing size of Cardiff as a city and changing environmental conditions.
“[Traffic] did drop with Covid, but it has now crept back up to pre Covid levels and will potentially grow,” he said.
“Changing environmental conditions – it is not just flooding. A big influence is actually sun light and heat on the network and theoretically we are going to get more peaks and troughs in this kind of thing.”
On customer demand peaking in March due to reports of potholes and road damage, Mr Brown said that this is “because we are coming out of the winter and that is when the roads have gone through a whole period, especially this year with all the water”.
He added: “It had a really detrimental effect. We try to get on top of it then in the coming months and you will see [demand] dropping down and then winter starts again so we get that constant demand.”
Additional capital funding of £2 million has been proposed by the highways team for 2023/24.
Mr Brown also said that there have been some positives with highway management, like street lighting, which is centrally managed now.
The council officer added that this has allowed for quicker repairs and that the use of LED lights has meant fewer faults.
However, the council report on the council’s Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP) also showed that the gap between available funding and steady state is set to grow.
Steady state is a level of funding that maintains an asset – roads, pavements, street furniture, street lighting, drainage and other structures – in its current condition.
“These are big rises,” said Mr Brown.
Cabinet will meet on Thursday May 18 to note the state of the council’s current HAMP and approve £2 million funding within the 2023/24 budget to help deal with the deterioration of roads in Cardiff.
by BBC LDRS reporter
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