COUNCIL MEETING ON: 18th FEBRUARY 2015
QUESTION FROM: COUNCILLOR BAKER
TO: COUNCILLOR CAFFREY, CABINET MEMBER FOR ECONOMY
Why is the state of repair on so many of Calderdale’s roads so bad when there appears to be money spare in the Highways department and a predicted underspend.
I do not accept that Calderdale’s roads are ‘so bad’ as Cllr Baker suggests – indeed, they are in at least as good a condition as those of our neighbouring authorities. It is also important to note that their condition is often at its worst at this time of the year due to the impact of the winter weather and need for gritting to keep them safe from ice and snow.
I would first of all like to clarify that the third Revenue Monitor reported to Scrutiny Panel on 29 January 2015 highlighted a budget pressure of £1M within the overall directorate (CAFM and non – CAFM budgets) and this contained a Highway works projected underspend of £430k. It was commented, however, in the report that this budget would be required in the financial year 2015/16 in order to finance additional Street Lighting capital works.
The report also referred to the potential for the overall budget for Highway works, which includes patching, footways, walling, signal maintenance, structures, street lighting and the winter service, to underspend by significantly more than this amount. If the overall budget for Highways works does underspend by significantly more than the £430k then it is worth noting that any underspend may be required in the first instance to finance other budget pressures within the directorate.
In assessing the successful delivery of the programme of works in relation to the Council’s network, which is essentially what the question relates to, there are a number of issues that need to be considered. Within the Highways works budget for the current year, the overall budget for patching and associated works is in the region of £1.126M. Earlier in the year it became clear that it was unlikely that a programme of spend could be delivered to this level and the sum of £300k was diverted to fund additional street lighting works.
It is now anticipated we will spend the balance of £826k in the current year and if this is the case then it will equate to 70% of the original budget of £1,126M. It is also anticipated at this point in time that the Council will deliver spend in the region £3,503M out of a total budget of £3.839M which equates to over 90% delivery of the Council’s capital programme. Additional grant of £1.2M has also been received by the Council in the current financial year in relation to pothole (£820k) and severe weather (£380k) funding. Over £700k of this has been spent to date with further work estimated to the value of £250k underway and orders raised for another £180k of work.
It is worth noting that current forecast of revenue (£826k) and capital (£3,503M) spend for the current year totalling £4,329k is still a significant sum to be spent on the Council’s network. Given the fact that the Council has had to divert staffing resources in the current year to deliver the additional capital works, deal with the additional work in relation to the Tour De France and Parking TRO issues, and also implement a restructure of the service by 31 March 2015, then the overall programme of work forecast to be delivered in the current year is fairly significant.
Clearly, there are issues in relation to the programming and delivery of work that need to be discussed and agreed with the Council’s main contractor (Amey) and also other partners, and discussing are ongoing.
As regards street lighting, the number of outstanding faults has been reduced from nearly 700 at the start of the year to 279 last week, despite the reporting of new faults. 256 repairs were undertaken last week, and we are continuing to make progress on the backlog. The over-sleeving of columns also continues to progress with 390 columns having been installed so far. With the introduction of a further team, 50 columns were installed last week, so we are on target for the 700 columns required by the end of the financial year.