Meeting documents

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


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Report by Head of Transport





1.                  The purpose of this report is to provide an update on progress in delivering the current year’s Transport Capital Programme, approved by Cabinet in March 2008.  It also presents the expected programmes for 2009/10 and 2010/11.  Next year will be the final full year of the present Oxfordshire Highways contract arrangements and Cabinet will be aware of the process in place for retendering.  The Capital Programme in this report therefore represents the culmination of the first Oxfordshire Highways contract period and indicates the likely programme for the first year of operation for the new contact.


Highway Maintenance Programme


2.                  Annex 1 (download as .pdf file) shows the latest forecast capital expenditure for highway maintenance for 2008/09, including information on the assessed Principal Road schemes (A Roads).  Of these the significant schemes completed this year so far are A40 Northway, A420 Buckland and, more recently and ahead of time, St Aldate’s Phase 2a.  The most significant schemes still to begin in the current financial year are Cumnor Hill and St Aldate’s Phase 2b, both of which have a planned start in January 2009.


3.                  Annex 2 (download as .pdf file) and Annex 3 (download as .pdf file) show progress made in delivering the planned highway maintenance programmes for Non-Principal Roads and footways. The carriageway, footways maintenance and drainage programmes are progressing well, with all identified schemes in the 2008/09 programme either completed or on track to be completed during this financial year.  The carriageways programme is currently 87% complete and the footways programme 57% complete.  Some schemes within the bridge maintenance programme have been deferred to 2009/10 and the resultant underspend this year will be used in part to offset abnormal inflation costs as determined by the Baxter index calculation (see paragraph 9 below), with the balance being used to supplement preparatory patching work for schemes in the 2009/10 safety surface dressing programme.


Carriageways (Principal Roads)


4.                  The Principal Roads budget for 2008/09 is £3.1m, of which £539k was originally identified to repay a 2007/08 reallocation from the Transport Improvements Programme for enhancements to High Street, Oxford.  This will now be used to fund emergency embankment stabilisation works on Cumnor Hill.


5.                  The £200k Priority Bus Route allocation was held in reserve to use as a contingency in the event that the tendered contract for St Aldate’s produced a higher than estimated price. However, Phase 2a of this scheme was delivered within budget and ahead of programme. It was also unaffected by the abnormal inflation that has impacted on the term maintenance contract. The savings have therefore been allocated to support other work in the Principal Roads programme. This includes the design of work on High Street Phase 3 which is currently programmed for construction in 2009/10.


6.                  Taking all these changes into account, the overall expenditure on the entire Principal Roads programme is currently forecast to be £89k over-budget by year end.  This will be balanced against savings made elsewhere in the Maintenance Capital Programme.


Carriageways (Non-Principal Roads) and Footways


7.                  All of the Non-Principal Road schemes programmed to be undertaken this year have been completed or committed.  Furthermore, the completed schemes have been delivered almost £300k lower than budgeted, which has allowed additional Non-Principal Road schemes and more surface dressing to be funded.  The £175k allocated for safety re-surfacing schemes has also been used to supplement the safety surface dressing programme.  The Footways programme is forecast to be completed to programme.


Drainage Improvements


8.                  There are over 40 drainage improvement schemes across the County in this year’s capital programme with a combined value of £550k.  All of these schemes are on programme and will be completed within the financial year.


Abnormal Pressures


9.                  The term maintenance contract that applies to the majority of construction work undertaken by Oxfordshire Highways is subject to an annual rates uplift that is calculated in accordance with the nationally recognised Baxter index.  Although Baxter increases are routinely budgeted for, the price of materials has escalated in recent months, with the consequence that works are costing considerably more than the 4% figure that was envisaged.  Latest calculations indicate that prices have actually increased by an additional 4%, and this is adding approximately £300k to the cost of delivering the overall capital programme, and also £300k extra to the cost of delivering the revenue works programme.

Highway Maintenance Forward Programme


10.             Data collection and analysis is currently underway to enable the forward programme of schemes to be updated.  Although the work cannot be completed until later in the year, this does not prevent early preparation of a number of high ranking schemes from the existing Principal Roads, Non-Principal Roads and Footways structural maintenance programmes.  These are being prepared along with surface dressing pre-patching to ensure continuity of work across financial years.


11.             An updated forward programme of maintenance schemes will be presented to Cabinet in March 2009 following further road condition assessment and determination of finalised capital funding and revenue base budgets for 2009/10.


Integrated Transport Improvement Programme


12.             The programme for 2008/09 was developed taking into account the need to make savings from the programme approved within the Local Transport Plan because of the restrictions placed on the County Council through being a floor authority.  This meant that only £6.090m of the £8.493m allocated from Supported Capital Expenditure (SCE) for transport improvements would actually be available to the County Council.  A further sum of £539k was to be made available by a transfer from the maintenance capital programme to “pay back” a transfer in the previous year.  An SCE supported programme of £6.629m was therefore to be delivered. 


13.             Cabinet approved a programme which was £933k greater than the available SCE with the expectation that developer funding could be identified to make up the difference.  This has now been identified and the table below lists those projects for which funding can be switched:



2008/09 SCE expenditure in programme report

Amount to be transferred to developer funding

Remaining SCE expenditure

Congestion Monitoring




Fairfax Close Cycle Link


(+75 in 2009/10)




Access to Oxford




Central Oxford AQMA




Rail Stations




Marcham Rd Abingdon




Road Safety Schemes




Total to be transferred




14.             The identification of this funding allowed the programme set out in the March report to proceed.  However the emergency requirement for additional funding to carry out works on Cumnor Hill to counter undermining of the road by badgers has subsequently meant that the £539k which was to have been transferred back to the improvements programme from maintenance could not go ahead.  The total SCE funded budget for improvements will therefore only be £6.090m.  This is now part of an overall Integrated Transport Improvement Programme for 2008/09 of £10.3m.  The current forecast end of year out-turn expenditure on the programme is given in Annex 4 (download as .doc file)


15.             The Integrated Transport Improvement Programme this year contains several significant schemes including the enhancement of Banbury Road in Summertown, which is almost complete, and the major improvement to London Road through Headington which is well under way and works have been reprogrammed to deliver the scheme in the original timeframe.  The tender price for this latter scheme was substantially lower than expected and has allowed the reallocation of around £600k within the programme.  Additional developer funding has been identified for schemes in Oxford and other towns and funds allocated through the West End renaissance programme have enabled work to be undertaken that was not previously funded.


Transport Improvement Forward Programme for 2009/10 - 2010/11


16.             In the March 2008 report to Cabinet a programme for the remainder of the LTP2 period was set out.  This included a programme for 2009/10 which balanced the funding that will be available in that year with the proposed programme of works.  However, the programme set out for 2010/11 was considerably greater than funding would allow, due to the SCE allocation that year to support the Cogges Link Road scheme. 


17.             The recent announcement of an exciting new impetus to the pedestrianisation of Oxford City centre in Transform Oxford has led to a review of funds within the Transport Improvement Programme to enable early work to be delivered in 2009/10 and 2010/11, whilst retaining the Cogges Link Road funding.  Excluding Frideswide Square which is separately funded, allocations of £1.2m for Transform Oxford have been made in the programme over those two years, using a combination of SCE and developer funding. This has required revisions being made to other aspects of the programme.  It is, however, clear that the current level of Transport resources will not be sufficient to deliver the scale of public realm enhancement contained within Transform Oxford in the longer term.  To achieve this, a much more significant funding commitment will need to be made.  This will be an issue for the Council’s Capital Steering Group to consider in due course.


18.             Annex 5 (download as .doc file) therefore shows a programme for SCE funded schemes for the remainder of the LTP2 period, updated in line with the current allocations in the 2008/09 programme and Transform Oxford.  As referred to above, it is expected that the SCE available for 2008/09 (£6.090m) will be fully utilised, as it will be for 2009/10 (£6.585m).  However, the 2010/11 programme remains under-resourced from SCE as only £5.061m will be available due to the Council’s floor authority status.  This may have consequences for the scheduling of the Cogges Link Road, although it would be premature to make any changes now to funding allocations in 2010/11 until the current planning stage of the Cogges Link Road process has been completed.  At present, the scheme remains fundable in the longer term within the resources expected to be available.


Financial and Staff Implications


19.             This report identifies the expected outturn capital expenditure for Highways Maintenance and Transport Improvements in 2008/09; and the consequent impacts on the forward programmes.  The bulk of the maintenance budget is delivered through Oxfordshire Highways.  While a large part of the Transport Improvements allocation is also delivered in this way there are substantial elements which are delivered outside this framework, particularly for higher value, tendered schemes and for other schemes in the Public Transport and Smarter Choices areas.




20.             The Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to:


(a)               approve the updated 2008/09 expenditure programme and actions as set out in this report.

(b)              approve the forward programme to enable early starts programming to be actioned on the 2009/10 schemes.





Head of Transport


Background papers:             Nil


Contact Officer:                     Kevin Haines Tel 01865 815686

Roger O’Neill Tel 01865 815659


28 October 2008


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