Road Maintenance Award for Argyll & Bute Council

Sometimes I'm reading stuff and wonder in what world I'm living in. I'm not a person who complains a lot and I'm neither a very sceptic person, but I had to shake my head in disbelief a couple of times when I read a press release which happily announced that the Argyll and Bute council had won an award for road maintenance!! Road maintenance??? Yes, road maintenance, believe it or not. They have been named 'most improved performer' of the UK. Is that because they did little last year and a wee bit more this year? Do you call that an improvement? Who knows.... The last time I drove over Argyll's roads my suspension was nearly wrecked and I could just prevent an accident when I tried to avoid one of the many many potholes in the A83. Now that was March this year and I'm starting to wonder what I have been missing up till now. Have all the potholes been repaired? Have all the roads been resurfaced? Did a miracle happen? And what about the roads on Islay? The last thing I heard were bitter complaints from people and remarks about the good roads that were being resurfaced and the bad roads were left untouched, go figure! Continue reading.....

For some reason not known to me the council managed to receive an award for whatever they did on (some of) Argyll's roads. I'm sure the workers from the council are not to blame and they will definitely work hard for their money but somewhere higher up in the food chain I'm convinced some people have raised an eyebrowe or two themselves as well. After all they probably use these roads as well don't they? They must know in what sorry state these roads are in or not? To convince you that I'm not kidding I have quoted a couple of lines from the press release:

Argyll and Bute Council has been named ‘Most Improved Performer’ at a prestigious UK awards ceremony. The news was welcomed by Councillor Duncan MacIntyre, the authority’s spokesperson for Transportation and Infrastructure. 'These are national awards which recognise outstanding performance in local government front line services,' he said. 'Our success is a real credit to the council staff who work so hard to maintain and improve our roads network, who are so often the unsung heroes. 'Winning this award won’t change the way we operate. We will continue to do what we do best – look at innovative and exciting solutions to maintaining and improving our roads network within the available funding.'

The comment box is open for your views and I hope someone out there can tell me that I really did miss something since March this year and that the roads are in an excellent condition as we speak.


Tag: roads maintenance council

Comments are closed

Spirit of Islay

Tuesday, 08 December 2009
Ron , i think you may find this is for everywhere else bar Islay , they have been busy on the A83 , there's a lovely new laid section between Inveraray and Lochgilphead from memory........

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Warehouse No.4 - The Spirit of Islay Forum .
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ron

Tuesday, 08 December 2009
I'm glad to hear the worst section of the A83 has been improved but I think the Council still has a long way to go.... Certainly on Islay and have you been on Mull lately? brrrrr

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I'd rather be on Islay :-)

Anonymous

Tuesday, 08 December 2009

Apart from the already mentioned improvements on the A83 (which happened in June already, as you might remember from the comments to this entry: Extra Money to Pave the Way for Better Roads) they have tried out some new experimental technology on both the High Road and the Low Road to "recycle" the old surface to lay a new surface. Can't remember how long the stretches were, but work was certainly done. Keep in mind how expensive road building and road maintenance is, if you google a bit you can find some averages. Just be warned, they are huge.

Also, what's your comparison? Sure most of the roads on Islay and the rest of Argyll & Bute aren't great, but are they really that much better in the rest of the UK? I doubt it, at least from my experience. The A4 between Newbury and Reading, a major route with thousands of cars, lorries and buses travelling on it every day, is an absolute nightmare in many places. That's just one example, many of the roads here in Berkshire and surrounding counties are in a similar state. Worn out, grooves, potholes, you name it. I suspect other places in the UK are similar.

Now that's not an excuse for the bad roads in Argyll & Bute, but it puts it into perspective. Especially keeping in mind the financial constraints all councils are under at the moment.


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Gruss,
Armin
www.islayblog.com
www.armin-grewe.com/islay/

ron

Tuesday, 08 December 2009

Armin, It's a fact that Argyll's roads are the worst in Scotland and I have recently been to other parts in Scotland and found the roads to be of a lot better quality there. Most roads in the Highlands are in a good condition so I can safely compare them with the roads in Argyll and come to the conclusion that in some parts the roads are horrible. The proof is all over the internet

There are stretches of public road on Islay (and Mull) that are only suitable for 4wd vehicles in my opinion. These roads lead to visitor attractions such as Kildalton Cross and Loch Gruinart and when you look at the condition of these roads and hear about the award for road maintenance I'm sure that many people agreee that the award is a big joke.


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I'd rather be on Islay :-)

Anonymous

Tuesday, 08 December 2009

It's a fact proven by what? Because someone says so? I can provide you as much proof that they are not as you can provide me that they are. It's everywhere on the internet as well: If you read in here the worst roads in the UK are in Ayrshire, last time I checked that wasn't in Argyll and Bute. None of the roads in this survey are in Argyll and Bute. Also Britain's worst road used to be in Leicester. Or try the comments here and here and see how many are claiming their area is the worst.

As I've said, that's no excuse for the bad state of the roads in Argyll and Bute and particularly on Islay, but please let's keep in perspective


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Gruss,
Armin
www.islayblog.com
www.armin-grewe.com/islay/

archieislay

Tuesday, 08 December 2009
Ron, council are not directly responsible(manpower) for a lot of the roads in the area but a private contractor. The award was for the works done directly by the council. Have a look at the For Argyll blog. Cheers.

Neil King

Wednesday, 09 December 2009
As a trunk road, is the A83 not the responsibility of the Scottish Executive rather than A&BC?

ron

Wednesday, 09 December 2009

Thanks Archie, Neil and Armin for the comments submitted. I'm glad we can get some discussion started and I have replied to your comments below:

Armin, when I wrote that the roads in Argyll are the worse in Scotland (not in the UK) I based myself on several articles and reports I have read in this past year as well as on my own experiences and the information I got from people in Islay and Argyll. Please take the time to visit the links below. There you can read that the roads in Argyll and Bute officially are (amongst) the worse in Scotland.

Take for instance this article in the Herald of 18 June 2009 in the Herald: "While A&B still has the worst record on road maintenance, Mr Turner has taken cheer that the proportion of roads requiring attention has fallen." Is that enough to get an award?

Or what about a report from the A&B council: "The current Network RCI (Road Condition Index) for Argyll and Bute is 16.5% red, 41% amber and 42.6% green resulting in a RCI value of 57.4%. The Scottish average values are 9.0% red, 28.5% amber, 62.5% green with RCI equal to 37.5%. The red factor implies that roads are in urgent need of maintenance/reconstruction work; the amber factor represents those roads which should be reviewed and are close to critical point."

Or this Comparison of Higland Council's roads with other rural authorities where you can read that Argyll & Bute and Borders have the worst rankings.

Or have a look at the comments in an article of forargyll.com here where you read about the experiences of people who live in the area.

Archie, you wrote that "the council are not directly responsible(manpower) for a lot of the roads in the area but a private contractor. The award was for the works done directly by the council." but I have to ask you who is paying the contractor. Isn't it in the end the responsiblity of the council? Aren't they the authority to tell the contractors what to do and what not?

Neil, I'm not sure about your that, I am under the impression that these roads are the responsibility of the council. If anyone knows for sure please leave a comment.


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I'd rather be on Islay :-)

Anonymous

Wednesday, 09 December 2009

Ron, you're making it look as if I'm disputing the roads are bad. I'm not. They are bad. They are certainly among the worst in Scotland and perceived by many as the worst (which funnily enough you will hear from the residents of other councils throughout the UK as well. It's always where they live where it's worst and the council is the most incompent...). At the same time the roads as far as I'm concerned are horrid in most of the UK, simply the result of many years of underinvestment. That's why I'm saying let's keep it in perspective.

Also you're ranting that nothing has been done when the last time you were there was in March. You've picked selected negative comments but ignored that something had been done despite me mentioning it to you, quite a lot actually. While not by the council a lot of work has been done on the A83 as I think we've well established by now. I don't have the time to look it up just now, but from memory there was a good reason the good parts on Islay were resurfaced. Someone from the council explained the reasons in The Ileach if memory serves me right. And I think it actually did make sense once you read it. Also work was done on both the High Road and the Low Road in October (may be starting September, can't remember), using some experimental new technique (I think they also did some work on Jura). Come to think of it, while by far not all of it parts of the road from Ardbeg to Kildalton had work done on it, I believe in April. I'm fairly sure we drove over some good new parts on the way to Claggain Bay during the walking week.

That still leaves a lot of work to be done, but with the tight funds the council has (and I suspect it will get worse) it's a start. I think it's time to see the positive instead of unreflected council bashing. Encourage the council instead of just bashing it.

To close, yes, Neil is partially right: Trunk roads are indeed the responsibility of higher levels of government than the respective councils. In the case of Scotland that's Transport Scotland (an agency of the Scottish Government), in England (not sure about Wales) the Highways Agency. For Argyll that's the A83, A82, A85 and A828. However, as far as the A83 is concerned it is only classified as a trunk road from Tarbet up to somewhere Tarbert/Kennacraig (not sure where exactly it ends). The remaining section down to Campbeltown is the council's responsibility.


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Gruss,
Armin
www.islayblog.com
www.armin-grewe.com/islay/

Neil King

Wednesday, 09 December 2009
I checked this on the transportscotland.gov.uk website and the A83 is a trunk road as far as Kennacraig and as such is the responsibility of the Scottish Executive. It is managed on their behalf by Scotland Transerv which is a joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Mouchel - nothing to do with A&BC. The same goes for the A82, A85 and A828 (Connel Ferry-Ballachulish). After Kennacraig, the A83 is not a trunk road and thus solely the responsibility of A&BC.

Neil King

Wednesday, 09 December 2009
Sorry! Left my message before I saw agrewe had already made the same point

ron

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Armin, I know you don't dispute the quality of the roads and I welcome your views very much, don't get me wrong. I was trying to put things in a different context than you did, for me it was the winning of an award versus the bad condition of the roads in Argyll, Mull and Islay.

From what you and Gordon wrote on the blog, and from what I heard from others in the meanwhile, is that (some of) the roads have indeed improved, which is great news. I'm sure a lot needs to be done yet so lets not be too cheerful too soon.

I guess what remains now is that I have to wait a couple more months before I can come over and check for myself. I will write about my findings on the blog, I can't wait!!


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I'd rather be on Islay :-)

ron

Saturday, 12 December 2009

I would like to point out a continuation of this discussion backed by images from a local on Islay: Visit this link for the follow up


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I'd rather be on Islay :-)