Cabinet received the North Tyneside Highway Asset Management Plan (HAMP) 2017-2032 Annual Information Report 2022 which summarised the work undertaken to demonstrate progress against delivery of performance of the Highway Management Plan during the past 12 months, future planned work activities and other items of relevant interest.
North Tyneside Council was responsible for an extensive highway network and feedback from its residents had consistently told the Authority that the maintenance of roads and footpaths was a top priority.
In September 2017, Cabinet had adopted a new HAMP 2017 - 2032, setting out the Authority’s approach to maintaining North Tyneside’s highways and responding to the Elected Mayor and Cabinet’s policy direction which included providing a greater emphasis on footways. The HAMP included a commitment to provide Cabinet with an annual information report outlining progress and key issues associated with the maintenance of the Authority’s public highway network.
Currently the highway maintenance activities delivered through the HAMP were funded through a number of funding streams as detailed in the report.
Since the introduction of the HAMP, the Authority had been able to maintain the highway network to a good standard, mainly due to its commitment to provide additional investment. However, this had not been without its challenges, most notable of which was in adequate funding from Central Government coupled with increased costs of materials arising from inflation and other world events. Improvement of the network would not have been possible had the Authority been solely reliant on Government funding.
The requirement to operate within government funding restraints and the increased costs of highway maintenance due to recent world events were significant challenges. However, in response to these challenges, the HAMP provided a structured programme of targeted investment into the highway network with the objective of ensuring it was maintained in a serviceable condition to meet the needs of the travelling public and businesses.
The Authority had also seen a change in how it managed and invested in the highway network. In line with the Authority’s commitment to increase active travel, the Authority had introduced schemes that had reallocated road space to cycling. This included improvements to Rake Lane Roundabout together with the introduction of cycle lanes on Middle Engine Lane. These, together with other planned works would see a greater use of the highway by a broader mix of users.
The Authority had also secured around £5.5m funding for schemes through Active Travel England and Transport North East which had enabled delivery on the ground. This had ensured that active travel and the reallocation of highway space to accommodate sustainable travel modes had been embedded in the Authority’s regeneration plans for North Shields.
However, this opportunity to increase active travel and investment in the Authority’s highway infrastructure would also bring increased maintenance liabilities that would need to be factored into the Authority’s future financial planning. Based on current funding trends, there was a concern that it would be difficult to sustain the condition of the network in future years. In addition to limited Government funding for core maintenance works, the issue had been exacerbated by the sudden increase in construction costs due to the inflation crisis and the war in Ukraine. The cost of surfacing materials were now 22% higher than they were 12 months ago. This translated to around 10 less roads being resurfaced in 2022/23 compared to previous recent years. As such, as the Authority looked ahead, it would need to align its core maintenance funding with external investment and targeted interventions where they would have the maximum impact.
Over the last 12 months, a number of positive changes to the highway maintenance service had been made such as improvements to operational processes and initiatives that would assist the Authority in achieving its policy objectives around carbon reduction.
The HAMP Annual Information Report 2022 attached as Appendix 1, would be used to inform investment choices and address the current challenges of maintaining the highway network. The report was aimed at supporting those investment choices so that any decisions about changes in highway maintenance priorities and resources could be made in an informed manner having regard to the Authority’s policy objectives.
Following the Cabinet meeting, all Ward councillors would be invited to view the HAMP Annual Information Report via the members intranet. The report would also be published on the Authority’s website so it could be viewed by the public.
The following key highlights could be drawn from the annual report:
· The highway network was the most extensive and valuable asset in the Authority’s ownership.
· The highway network is a strategically important asset, and a well-maintained network is vital to support the local economy. Every day, thousands of residents are reliant on the highway network to travel to work and school. Visitors to the borough also use the network to access the Authority’s various tourist attractions which further stimulates the local economy.
· The current total value of highway assets was £1,840,000,000 (£1.84 billion).
· The successful implementation of the HAMP and the adoption of asset management principles by the Authority was demonstrating that, over the years, the condition of the road network was improving. However, the Authority was now at a point where if improvement was to continue on the current trajectory, further investment would be required.
· Due to continued additional Authority investment over the years, the highway network was currently in a serviceable state. However, the constraints around Government funding coupled with concerns around inflation and other recent world events would continue to have a serious impact on the cost of highway maintenance.
· The report suggests that consideration should be given to reviewing investment and maintenance priorities in light of the emerging funding and inflation issues. The report advises that highway officers will commence discussions with the Elected Mayor, the Cabinet Member for the Environment and the Senior Leadership Team around what options might be available for the future management of the network in the most effective way.
· With regard to reactive maintenance and core services, the Technical Services Partnership continued to largely achieve its Key Performance Indicator targets and through its Annual Service Plan was identifying innovative ways of working and service improvements which was evident in the report.
· Continued customer engagement was providing better intelligence concerning resident satisfaction and new initiatives were being developed to better understand customer priorities. Feedback received from customers on their investment priorities would be used to inform forward programmes of improvement work.
· The Authority had successfully delivered all programmed highway asset improvement schemes to date.
Resolved that the content of the Highway Asset Management Plan Annual Information Report 2022 attached as Appendix 1, be noted.