SPENDING on Scotland’s roads has been slashed by nearly £140 million over the past seven years sparking fresh concerns about the state of the nation's pock-marked surfaces.

A new report reveals that road investment has dropped by a fifth from 2010/11 to £554 million last year with councillors claiming that cuts to local authority budgets have now "really started to bite".

It comes as the Road Maintenance Strategic Action Group (RMSAG) – chaired by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf – warned that current levels of spending will be "insufficient" to tackle a £1.2 billion maintenance backlog.

HeraldScotland: Potholes on Dowanhill Street, in Glasgow's west end, photo: Colin Templeton

Previous studies from 2016 show that Scottish motorists reported around 423 cavities per day – three times more than their counterparts in London.

The fresh research by council umbrella body Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) showed that overall government funding for councils has fallen by 7.6 per cent in real terms, from £10.5 billion to £9.7 billion.

And while sectors such as education have been protected, cash for leisure and cultural services has fallen by 17 per cent and funding for parks has dropped by 22 per cent.

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) president Councillor Alison Evison, who also chairs the Improvement Service Board, said: “Today’s report shows that the cuts to local government have really started to bite, particularly in the non-statutory services.

“Local government cannot continue to be the poor relation of the public sector and the fact that roads spending is down 20 per cent will not have gone unnoticed."

But despite the steep cuts, the report suggests that overall there may have been a "slight improvement" in the overall condition of all roads although in the past year the picture has become more mixed with A roads showing a "slight deterioration".


Neil Greig, director of policy and research with road safety charity IAM Roadsmart warned that diluting road maintenance funding will end up costing more in the long run.

"Fuel prices up, road taxes up and traffic levels up, but spending on roads down, represents a really unfair deal for hard pressed Scottish drivers," he said.

"Given the current state of the roads these figures confirm what road users see every day.

"These are political decisions so drivers need to keep the pressure up on their political representatives and hammer home the importance of roads for safety, the economy and the delivery of other council services."

It has previously been suggested by RMSAG that retaining 33 separate road authorities across the country is "likely to be unsustainable", raising the prospect of merging council roads departments to save money.

Among the councils announcing plans to cut roads investment this year areEast Lothian with a £5.2m drop decline in transport spending.

 Scottish Labour MSP Colin Smyth MSP said the latest figures demonstrated that “Scotland is not well prepared for winter” but a Scottish Government spokesman insisted it had successfully protected the country from Westminster cuts.

He said: “Local authorities have been forced to pass on SNP government cuts by slashing the road maintenance budget by a fifth.

“As we saw earlier this year, that can cause chaos on our roads, with streets and pavements being left ungritted.

“That means travel misery for commuters across the country."

And Scottish Conservatives local government spokesman Alexander Stewart said: “People right across the country are getting completely fed up with the state of roads.

“From motorways to small residential streets, there are just too many potholes and too many problems.


“Clearly council budgets have been cut to the bone by the SNP.

“That’s nothing to do with Westminster, Brexit, or anything else the nationalists like the point their finger at.

“It’s a choice made by this SNP government which hard-pressed local authorities are struggling to live with.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “In spite of continued UK Government real terms cuts to Scotland’s resource budget, we have treated local government very fairly.

“This year’s budget will deliver a real terms increase in revenue investment for local authorities with local services benefitting from an additional £170 million of resource funding.their communities.