Roads bosses at Moray Council have admitted they are “quite surprised” the condition of the region’s routes has improved.
Warnings were issued last year of a looming crisis on the roads due to surfaces “rapidly deteriorating” with a massive repairs backlog.
Councillors voted to reduce spending on maintaining roads in 2014 at a time when they were among the best in Scotland, amid assurances they would not be allowed to fall into the worst 50% in the country.
However, despite a year of aborted maintenance due to Covid, fresh figures have revealed the distance of roads needing repaired has decreased during the last year.
Survey changes could be behind improvement in Moray roads condition
Yesterday Mark Atherton, Moray Council’s roads maintenance manager, confessed his team found it “quite surprising” the condition has improved – suggesting the results could be a result of changes to the way they are evaluated.
He said: “We have graphs that show where we started in 2009/10 and where we are projected to get to with the level of funding we have.
“There have been peaks and troughs along the way, last year there was a noticeable deterioration.
“This year, quite surprisingly, our roads have improved. We were quite surprised when we found out.
“The bottom line though is that we are still pretty much where our model said we would be.”
Roads condition may have benefitted from less traffic during pandemic
Statistics published by Moray Council show that 28.5% of all its roads needed “treatment” for 2019 to 2021, a drop from 30.6% for 2018 to 2020.
Last year the region’s routes were ranked eighth nationally but data to compare the most recent data to all 32 local authorities is yet to be published.
Factors highlighted as potentially influencing the improvement have included a change in the way roads were surveyed.
Meanwhile, a change in the time Moray roads were assessed to August, due to Covid, has also been suggested for their condition having improved due to them benefitting from nearly two years of repair works and less traffic.
However, all the benefits from a £500,000 budget increase to address deterioration concerns have not been able to be delivered due to the pandemic with work due to be rolled over to next year.
Council leader Graham Leadbitter said: “Unusually the roads have improved in the last year. It isn’t an exact science though because obviously they survey different parts of the road each year, it’s more about the trend rather than a one-year indicator.”