Since its inception in 2008 the National Highways and Transport Survey (NHTS) has provided local authorities with a valuable evidence-base about public perspectives on services. A total of 105 participating authorities have received their own detailed data, key indicators and benchmarks. These have been used to inform Local Transport Plans (LTPs) and other priority-setting exercises, to manage contractors, shape service delivery and communications.
This paper provides a summary of new analysis by Ipsos MORI and measure2improve of the 2011 aggregate NHTS dataset. The 2011 survey came at an important time for a sector facing numerous challenges including increased pressure on public finances and the legacy of a very harsh winter (winter 2010-11
was the coldest for the last 100 years).
Shortly before the survey was set up and questionnaires dispatched, the Highways Management and Efficiency Programme (HMEP) was established by the Department for Transport. HMEP has the overall objective of allocating funds to develop an efficiency programme aimed at supporting English highway authorities. Its vision includes “…delivering a sustainable balance between meeting the needs of highways users, improving quality and minimising costs.”
The emphasis on users is reflected in the preamble and stated lines of enquiry of the Potholes Review: Progress Report published by HMEP in December 2011 as these two extracts show:
“Good customer service is one of the key objectives of highway maintenance…There is a high expectation amongst customers that highways should be safe, comfortable and free from defects…If road users are going to better understand how roads are maintained, how maintenance standards are set
and the cost of improving the standard of service, then they need to be engaged in the decision making processes, so that they understand the challenges local
highway authorities face.”
“Local highway authorities and stakeholder groups must actively work together to promote common interests in determining priorities
and demonstrating the importance of a sustainable approach to maintenance.”
 Further technical details about the NHTS are summarised
in the Appendices to this paper (Annex 2) and local authority-specific data and
benchmarks can be sourced from www.nhtsurvey.org
 HMEP, Potholes
Review: Progress Report, December 2011.