Members of the region’s economy, tourism, strategic planning and transportation committee were told that an estimated £12m a year is needed to maintain a ‘steady state’ across the network, yet the average annual budget so far set aside over the next five years is just over half that figure.
Despite that, SNP/Labour administration councillors have given their biggest hint so far that extra cash could be made available over the coming years - building on the additional near £10m roads investment pledged over a two-year period when the 2021 budget was set in March.
The call for more cash comes after the publication of Fife’s annual Road Condition Report, which suggests the current maintenance backlog would need an eye-watering £77.6m to completely clear.
That figure, however, is actually down on the £80.2m estimate given two years ago, although the report concludes that while there has been a slight improvement in the condition of A, B and C class roads, the state of the overall network and unclassified roads has deteriorated.
Councillor Altany Craik, committee convener, suggested the council’s new risk-based approach to fixing road defects should help, but acknowledged the state of the region’s roads was an “emotive” subject for everyone.
“The pro-active rather than reactive approach means we will be able to do more with our money, but it’s clear the roads are not in the condition we would want them to be,” he noted.
“It is important to recognise that councils are funded inadequately, but it’s still about what we do with our choice.
“We need to get to a stage where people can report potholes, have confidence it goes into a programme and is planned for repairs that will last.”
Current spending plans have £9.6m marked for maintenance for 2022/23, but the figure is due to fall to 5m in each of the years 2023/24, 2024/25 and 2025/26.
However, Neil Watson, lead consultant, is optimistic more money will be made available.
He added: “If we don't invest in planned resurfacing works, potholes are more likely to develop.”