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Budget Proposal 2024/25: Reduce funding for gully emptying and bridge maintenance

Have your say.

Consultation status Results published
Start date: 2023-11-27
End date: 2024-01-11
Results 2024-02-29

Activity closed. Results published.

Balanced scales


Under the 1980 Highways Act, as Highway Authority we have a duty to maintain the local road network of 1,280 km.

To achieve this, we have a budget of approximately £3.6 million, covering activities such as street lighting, gully emptying, bridge maintenance, winter gritting and dealing with highway emergencies such as flooding, road traffic accidents, fallen trees and other storm or adverse weather damage.

The current budget for gully emptying and bridge maintenance is £384,050.

Gullies are emptied on a risk-based approach, informed by the type of road on which they are situated, the potential to impact 3rd party property and based on surveys undertaken over a number of years which identified those gullies that tend to fill more frequently than others. Based on this information, gullies have been placed on a 6 month, annual, 2 year or 4 year emptying programme.

We have 327 highway structures which require inspection every other year. Many of the structures require special access for inspections and require routine maintenance (drainage clearance, removal of foliage, minor repairs, pump servicing) as part of, or following the inspection process. 

We have a team of officers and a Term Maintenance contract with Volker Highways Ltd in place to deliver the full range of highway maintenance services.

Legislation Requirements

Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980.

What we are proposing

To reduce the annual funding by:


Budget reduction (£)% of budget
Bridge maintenance£80,00044%
Gully emptying£50,00025%


What we think the impact will be

Reducing the bridge maintenance budget should have negligible immediate impact on users. However, in the long term, a reduction will have a negative effect on our structures and will require additional future capital investment. 

Reducing spend on gully emptying will lead to more ongoing localised flooding. Associated ponding on the highway will lead to accelerated deterioration of the highway surface and increased potholes and surface defects.

The remaining budget will be sufficient to allow the service to deliver its statutory duties under the Highways Act.

Icon for pdf Please refer to the Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for more details. [31KB]

What else we have considered before arriving at our proposal

No other options to reduce expenditure in this area have been identified.

Why we want your views

We would like to know how these proposals might impact you and the wider community, and any views you have on how we can minimise the impact of these proposed changes, if the decision is taken to proceed with them.

How to take part

If you'd like to comment on these proposals, please complete our survey by midnight on Thursday, 11 January 2024. It should take about 10 minutes. 

If you have any questions about the consultation, please email

For general information about roadworks and maintenance, please visit our webpage.

What happens next

All the feedback we receive will be taken into consideration, and a final decision whether to proceed with these proposals will be made by elected Members at the Full Council Meeting to be held on Thursday, 29 February 2024.

If the decision is made to proceed with these proposals, the reduced funding for gully emptying and bridge maintenance will be adopted in April 2024.


Back to the main Budget Proposal page

What you told us

In total, 279 responses were received through the survey. We also received direct responses from Reading West & Mid Berkshire CLP and Newbury CLP, Thatcham Town Council, and Tilehurst and Basildon Parish Councils. We received no petitions.

A summary of the responses received is included in the agenda papers for each public meeting.

What we did

The budget for 2024/25 will be considered by councillors at the Executive meeting on Thursday, 8 February 2024, and then by Full Council on Thursday, 29 February 2024. It will also be discussed by members of the Special Scrutiny Commission on Tuesday, 6 February 2024.

All meetings will be open to the public and residents can attend either in person at the Market Street Offices or virtually.

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