Highway asset management in Blackburn with Darwen

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In recent years the investment in highway infrastructure and its performance has been increasingly under the spotlight.  The current financial challenges and increased public demands and expectations have meant that the way local highway authorities managed their highway infrastructure had to be re- considered. 

Asset Management has been widely accepted by central and local government as a means to deliver a more efficient and effective approach to management of the highway infrastructure assets through long term planning.  Both our society and economy are underpinned by infrastructure assets including water supply, waste disposal, energy, telecommunications as well as transport. This infrastructure is vital in modern society and requires significant investment for development and maintenance.  Such an approach enables more efficient and effective use of resources, while fulfilling legal obligations, delivering stakeholder needs and safeguarding the engineering integrity of the network.

Andrew Jones MP speaks to local authorities at the Technical Advisors Group Conference about the issues of asset management.

What is Highway Asset Management?

The concept of highway asset management is becoming increasingly important for those responsible for managing highway networks. Asset management is not a new concept and most highway authorities are practicing elements of asset management already. However, the service wide application of asset management is a new concept.

In the highways context - where the asset is the highway itself - the aim is to provide a structured approach to roads maintenance to enable highway authorities to operate, maintain and restore their ‘highway assets' to meet key performance requirements.

Looking after the highways network is a national priority given its fundamental role in the economy.  To fulfil this potential, it needs to be adequately maintained.

Highway Asset Management strategy

Highway authorities in England are required by the Department for Transport (DfT) to demonstrate they are making the best use of highway assets through asset management strategy.

A Highway Asset Management strategy is a tool that allows detailed information, on the assets held by the authority, to be provided at all corporate levels.

This would then enable the value for money of local highway maintenance to be measured more effectively against other local transport spending, and eventually assist in crucial strategy and planning decisions.

Funding Changes

In December 2014, the Secretary of State for Transport announced that £6 million will be made available between 2015/16 and 2020/21 for local highways maintenance capital funding.  From this funding, £578 million has been set aside for an Incentive Fund scheme, to reward councils who demonstrate they are delivering value for money in carrying out cost effective improvements and the adoption of asset management principles.

Self-assessment questionnaire for the Incentive Fund

Each local highway authority in England (excluding London) will be invited to complete a self-assessment questionnaire, in order to establish the share of the Incentive fund they will be eligible for in the forthcoming year.

Each authority will score themselves against 22 questions and place themselves into one of 3 Bands on the basis of the available evidence. The Department for Transport will not necessarily want to see the supporting evidence from every local highway authority, although it does reserve the right to undertake sample audits. It will however be the responsibility of Section 151 Officer at each local authority to ensure that they are satisfied that the evidence is sufficient for him/her to sign off the overall submission and total score.

The incentive funding awarded to each local highway authority will be based on their score in this questionnaire, and will be relative to the amount received through the needs-based funding formula.

In 2016/17, only authorities in Bands 2 and 3 will receive their full share of the £578 million, whilst authorities in Band 1 will receive 90% of their share. These percentages for Bands 1 and 2 decrease in each subsequent year, with only authorities in Band 3 being awarded their full share of the funding.

The 2017/18 self-assessment questionnaire is to be released shortly for all highway authorities to complete and submit.  Further information will be available on this webpage once further details are released by the DfT.

Highway Self-assessment questionnaire.

The basis of the self-assessment questionnaire

Over the last four years, the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) has developed a selection of products and services that promote efficient and effective working practices. These resources are founded on the good practice that many authorities are already adopting. In producing this self-assessment questionnaire, an objective has been to build on this good work and to support authorities who are on the journey towards improving their working practices.

The questions are designed to enable authorities to assess their progress on the journey to the implementation of good practice, which will create an environment for effective and efficient delivery and enable capital funding to maximise its return.

Underpinning this are the needs of stakeholders and the communication of the importance of the highway service and the needs for well-maintained highways.  With the advent of the Challenge Fund, the Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) and the best practice guidance from the Department for Transport (DfT) the ways of working for North Tyneside Council will change over the next year. The HMEP and DfT guidance advocates the adoption and implementation of life cycle plans for all major infrastructure assets. For those highway authorities within England who have developed and implemented life cycle planning their maintenance backlog has reduced dramatically.

Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme website

A revised Code of Practice (CoP) for Well-managed Highways

At the direction of the Department for Transport the current CoP; Well-maintained Highways CoP, Well-Maintained Highway Lighting CoP, Well-maintained Highway Structures CoP and Management of Electronic Traffic Equipment CoP have been reviewed and amalgamated into one document, Well-managed Highway Infrastructure. There have been some fundamental changes including the move to a risk based approach to the procedures which manage the highway infrastructure. The new CoP were published electronically on 28 October 2016. For all highway authorities there is a 2 year transition period for implementation of the new CoP by October 2018.

Revised Code of Practice (CoP) for Well-managed Highways

Contact details

Mail Highway services, Floor 1, Cathedral Square, Blackburn, BB1 1EZ
Phone Number(s) 01254 273830
Fax Number(s)  
E-mail highways@blackburn.gov.uk
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