South Ayrshire’s roads boss has vowed to reduce potholes across the area’s roads as it was revealed that it would cost £46 million to bring its road network up to scratch.

That is the figure placed on the backlog of road improvements and doesn’t include the annual £5.7m it requires to simply maintain the status quo or ‘steady state’.

Kevin Braidwood, head of Ayrshire Roads Alliance, told South Ayrshire Council’s cabinet that less than half of that £5.7m was available, with a budget of £2.8m agreed by the council in March.

Last autumn, Ayrshire Roads Alliance was forced to cut its road improvement programme short when it ran out of money, largely because of inflationary costs and shortages of materials.

The works which were cancelled then have been made a priority in 2023/24. The road network itself is valued at £1.9 billion.

In his report, Mr Braidwood stated: “The steady state value is £5.7m
per year and the backlog figure is £46.4m.

“It has recently been reported that investment nationally over the last seven years has seen a 26 per cent reduction.

“Continued reduction in budgets will see a further increase in the current backlog figure. The allocation of £2.8m for carriageway resurfacing in 2023/24 falls short of the steady state value.”

He said that, while those capital funds wouldn’t meet the need, revenue funding for resurfacing schemes, road patching, pavements and potholes helped to narrow the gap.

The Road Condition Index (RCI) is predicted to deteriorate over future years without increased investment.

Tackling potholes will help reduce the higher costs that come with deteriorating surfaces, he said.

Mr Braidwood said: “As the road condition deteriorates more expensive treatments become necessary.

“This impacts on a static budget as inflationary pressures increase the treatment costs and results in less of the network being resurfaced.”

He said ARA’s approach would be centred on:

  • a robust carriageway inspection regime
  • ensuring that potholes are repaired as quickly as possible
  • structural patching in addition to the carriageway resurfacing
  • consideration of alternative materials for repairs

Mr Braidwood pointed out that material shortages in 2022/23 resulted in amendments to the programme.

And he added: “It is envisaged that rising costs will continue to be an issue in 2023/24 as a result of increased bitumen costs and vehicles no longer permitted to be fuelled with Red Diesel.”

Councillor Alec Clark asked Mr Braidwood whether ARA would be able to ‘ringfence’ some of its budget for residential roads.He said: “We invest heavily in rural roads and they certainly have improved but some residential roads are in very poor condition.”

Mr Braidwood said that he would look at how ARA ‘scores’ schemes and tweak them to allow residential roads to be considered.

Councillor Bob Pollock said the scale of the road network was underestimated by many people.

He said: “The very telling part of it is,  the actual value of our roads network is £1.9 billion. I suspect most people don’t take that into account. It is far and away the most valuable asset the council has.

“Unless we start to see significant investment at national government level, both Scottish and UK governments, we are not to able to do anything but put on a sticking plaster.

“Every time we get a complaint from a constituent about roads it maybe helps to put it into these kinds of contexts”.

Council leader Martin Dowey told Mr Braidwood: “You have probably got the hardest job, any time a member goes to a community council, people are moaning about the roads.

“But there is an improvement there. Folk don’t appreciate the amount of effort you and your staff put in to try and keep the roads in a good state.

"The fact they are improving is credit to you.”