12 October 2023 | Collaboration | Our Work

View from the top: Money and the Devil

As the dust starts to settle from last week’s announcements from the Prime Minister and the “Plan for Drivers”, we also heard more about how each region would fare in the funding.

Anyone that knows me (and my much more famous brother, a published satirist) will know we have a healthy dose of curiosity in our genes particularly when it comes to Government policy, announcements, or politics. Amongst last week’s announcements there was certainly much for many of our members; public or private sector, to be pleased about.

Firstly £70m Signals funding, which Darren Capes, ITS Policy Lead announced at Strictly Highways which includes:

Traffic Signals Obsolescence Grant (TSOG) – £30 million to replace unreliable and obsolete equipment in traffic signal systems before spare parts run out, including halogen, comms equipment and controller equipment. This is funded from within the 2023/24 Highway Maintenance Block.

Green Light Fund (GLF) – £20 million ‘Green Light Fund’ for tuning up traffic signals to better reflect current traffic conditions. This builds on the £15 million Traffic Signals Maintenance Grant issued in 2021/22, which improved sites in 232 schemes across 39 local authorities.

Intelligent Traffic Management Fund (ITMF) – Dedicate an additional £20 million to deploy advanced technology for traffic signals, making use of machine learning and AI to optimise traffic flow and balance traffic across city centres.

The Telegraph on Sunday trumpeted “The Government will spend an extra £8 billion over the next decade to fix the country’s potholes”. The news story continues with “£8.3 billion of the cash saved from the scrapping of the northern leg of the HS2 line into local roads maintenance budgets over the next 10 years, in what officials are calling the “largest allocation for local roads maintenance ever”. For sure this is significant funding, but only once we understand the devil in the detail and unpick any already announced funds or funds which were already BAU for councils.

However, regardless of the semantics in the wording the detail will be important. The amounts for roads “re-surfacing” or to “combat potholes” has been announced per region but this could be the start of where challenges begin. Whatever happens I hope we use this opportunity to deliver a decarb sensitive approach to road repairs although let’s not forget the budget covers many, many areas of infrastructure elements; footways, structures, drainage and more.

More than ever, strong asset management plans, life cycling modelling (and planning), innovations, and procurement mechanisms like the LCRIG Innovation Procurement System will be crucial. Let’s make the funds matter to our networks.