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ICE Public Works and Services Poll 27

A public opinion poll on behalf of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Date Published: 28 Jan 2011

Categories: Infrastructure | Public and communities | Public Sector | Social | Transport | UK



Q4 2010 – the public’s attitude to public services

 Roads and highways have again topped the list of areas that need investment with over half the UK (55 percent) rating it as their first or second priority, according the latest public service satisfaction survey, published today by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). 


The quarterly survey monitors attitudes to key public services in the UK such as roads, public transport, waste facilities and energy supply to homes.


Roads and highways have remained the public’s first or second priority for more investment throughout 2010, following the severe weather of the 2009/10 winter which exacerbated existing road defects and led to a 40 percent increase in the number of pot holes. This caused satisfaction on the state of UK roads and highways to plummet from 60 percent down to 46 percent.


The current survey, carried out in December amid the heavy snows which brought transport networks to a standstill, again showed the impact of the severe weather on our roads and highways with public satisfaction falling significantly, from 59 percent in Q3 to 50 percent in Q4, and those who place it as first or second priority for investment rising 6 percent (from 49 percent in Q3 to 55 percent in Q4). 


The results follow a 15 percent cut to the Department for Transport’s budget in the October spending review and the subsequent announcement late last year of further cuts to highway maintenance funding, up to 19 percent on average across councils.


ICE’s independent assessment of the UK’s infrastructure, State of the Nation: Infrastructure 2010, found local roads to already be in poor condition, graded a ‘D’ or ‘at risk’.


ICE Vice President Geoff French said: “Although official statistics are not yet available we can be sure to see another significant rise in the number of potholes across the country after the severe weather of last month.


“With a significant backlog of maintenance and repair works already existing and council funding under even more pressure, there is a real risk that this situation will worsen as local authorities have no choice but to adopt short term ‘quick fix’ approaches to remedy new surface defects over more longer term methods. Our road networks are vital for regional and economic activity – there must be a more strategic, preventative approach to ensure this valuable asset is properly maintained and protected.”


Satisfaction with flood defences also fell quarter on quarter, from 67 percent to 60 percent, following serious flooding in Cornwall in November. In light of hefty cuts to Defra’s budget in last year’s spending review ICE believes a more innovative approach to flood risk management will need to be implemented in future to deliver long-term, low cost solutions.


French continued, “ICE was pleased to see recognition of the importance of our key public services to economic growth in last year’s spending review. However, our economic recovery and shift to a low carbon economy depend on continued commitment to maintaining and upgrading these vital assets.


“We hope to see the importance of our infrastructure reflected in the upcoming Budget.”


Other findings included:

§  Electricity and gas jumped from last priority (6th) for investment to third, after roads and highways and public transport. This seasonal shift has been consistent since the survey’s inception

§  Nearly one fifth of all people (22 percent) said they were dissatisfied with public transport, with one in ten people saying they were ‘very dissatisfied’ with public transport

§  80 percent of people are satisfied with rubbish and waste disposal in their area, the highest level it has been over the last two years.




Notes to editors:


§  ICE’s State of the Nation: Infrastructure 2010 report can be downloaded here


§  ICE’s response to cuts to flood defense funding can be downloaded here


§  The ICE survey, conducted quarterly by ComRes, investigates public attitudes towards key public works and services and asks them to indicate their overall levels of satisfaction as well as their top investment priorities. ComRes conducted a telephone survey of 1003 members of the public between the 16 – 19 December 2010. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.    



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