FIFE’S roads are getting worse and there’s going to be less money to maintain and fix them.

And a report warned that if there’s not enough investment there’s a risk of a “second-class road network and unsustainable backlog of repairs”.

Steady investment from 2010 onwards had driven an improvement in the Kingdom’s roads but this has now stalled.

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment at Fife Council, said: “Whilst investment has remained at around £7.5m per annum over the last five years, there will be a substantial reduction in available funding of 30 per cent over the next five-year period.”

He added: “Given the linkage between funding and Road Condition Indicator (RCI), the Fife road network condition is likely to deteriorate further in the medium to long term.”

The five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20 saw £37.4m spent on carriageway improvements, an average of £7.5m a year, but from 2020-21 to 2024-25 this is projected to drop to £26.2m, an average spend of £5.2m a year.

There’s also an estimated £77.6m road maintenance backlog in Fife.

Over the next five years, £10m that could have gone on carriageway repairs will be spent on repairing, strengthening or replacing a number of bridges, including a new structure over the Den Burn in Cardenden.

There is also significant spend earmarked for the Eliza Brae, in Lochgelly.

Councillors were told: “There is a direct relationship between road maintenance funding and road condition, and it is important that enough funding is available to maintain roads in adequate and safe condition and there is sufficient investment to avoid the development of a second-class road network and unsustainable backlog of repairs.”

The most recent RCI results, for 2018-20, showed that the “overall road network condition is deteriorating” with 32.3 per cent of all roads in Fife requiring work. The condition of the A, C and unclassified roads had also got worse, B class roads were slightly better.

Mr Gourlay said: “With reducing budgets, it will not be possible to prevent a decline in road condition.”

As for road defects, typically potholes, last year the council moved from an intervention-based approach to a risk-based approach.

There was some overlap between the two and lockdown also affected the results, making it difficult to compare with previous years.

Under the old system, the target was to repair 99 per cent of all category 1 defects, those that are considered an “unacceptable safety hazard”, within 24 hours.

And the aim was to complete 95 per cent of category 2 repairs, on potholes that are 40mm or greater, within five working days.

However, the report said these targets had proved “unachievable”.

There were 462 category 1 defects fixed in 2019-20, only around 50 per cent within the target, and 20,280 category 2 defects repaired, just 42 per cent were done within five days.

The council reckoned the figures for 2019-20 were “surprising”, 6,000 more potholes were identified the previous year, and the report added: “Significant issues have been experienced with the inspection and repair recording system which makes the performance figures unreliable and not in line with our perception of the ‘on the ground’ experience.”