£19m funding boost for Dorset’s roads

Dorset County Council will receive £19m from central Government to look after its highways in 2017/18.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed this year’s grant to the county council’s highways service – Dorset Highways – which includes being awarded ‘Band 3’ status, meaning Dorset will receive additional funding for maintenance activities each year up to 2021 – amounting to £8m over the next four years.

For the first time this year, highway authorities had to complete a self-assessment against criteria linked to asset management, network resilience, communication, efficiencies and operational service delivery, providing supporting evidence for each section. Using this information the DfT has ranked authorities as Band 1, 2, or 3, with Band 3 – the best performing highways services – receiving more money than those in Band 1 or 2.

Across England and Wales, 39 authorities achieved the top Band 3 status, 72 were awarded Band 2 and four remained in Band 1. The south west had the best result for Band 3, with eight authorities securing the prestigious title.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin, service director for highways and emergency planning, said: “We’ve been working hard for the last two years to put in place a management strategy that would ensure we could demonstrate our assessment as a Band 3 authority. With ever increasing budgetary pressures, it is great to see this effort has paid dividends for the county council.”

The funding from the DfT for local transport is made up from a number of different capital grants, with allocations from the Integrated Transport Block, Highways Maintenance Block (needs and incentive elements), Pothole Action Fund and the National Productivity Investment Fund. For 2017/18 Dorset Highways will receive

  • £12,364,000 highway maintenance needs element
  • £1,189,000 highway maintenance incentive element (Band 3)
  • £1,070,000 Pothole Action Fund
  • £2,492,000 National Productivity Investment Fund
  • £2,088,000 Integrated Transport Block fund

Dorset County Council will also add £1m into the highways budget, with £750,000 targeting carriageway repairs and £250,000 funding the upgrading of traffic signals and pedestrian crossings.

Andrew continued: “We’ve received over £15m to improve the condition of our highway network over the coming year as part of our annual maintenance programme, which targets the roads and bridges most in need of maintenance.

“On top of this, we’ll be using money from the National Productivity Investment Fund to introduce a traffic management scheme for the A350 and C13, and money from the Integrated Transport Block will fund schemes linked to improving safety and journey times, and encouraging more sustainable travel options.

“We know that this money is not sufficient to address all the issues on our network but, by evaluating condition data and defect reports, we can deploy the different methods and techniques available to keep our most heavily trafficked roads, and those which support Dorset’s businesses, in a good condition for longer.”

Dorset County Council, along with all other highway authorities, is also currently waiting for a decision on its latest funding application to the Department for Transport. If successful, the Challenge Fund would provide a further £1.6million to improve the condition of roads linking to rural businesses and key tourist areas.

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