Highways Agency reforms to proceed following consultation

12.00 | 30 April 2014 | | 2 comments

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, has approved “wide-ranging reforms” to the Highways Agency following an extensive consultation, the results of which were published on 30 April.

Over the next 12 months the Highways Agency will become a Government-owned company tasked with managing and operating England’s motorway and strategic A-road network. The DfT plans to bring the new company into operation in April 2015.

The DfT press release announcing the changes said: “Changes to the Highways Agency will save the taxpayer at least £2.6bn over the next 10 years and will make the new company more accountable to Parliament and road users.

“Supported by stable, locked-in funding that will eliminate the uncertain ‘stop-start’ processes of the past, the new company and its suppliers will have the confidence to recruit skilled workers on longer-term contracts that will save the taxpayer money.

“The Government is also setting up two new bodies to hold the company to account – one to protect the interests of motorists and other road users, and another to oversee the roads network and watch over costs and performance.”

Patrick McLoughlin said: “Our road network is an incredibly important national asset, but it has been neglected.

“This Government has committed to the biggest ever investment in our roads but it is vital we have the right foundations in place to make sure this huge amount of money is spent in the most efficient way.

“The reformed Highways Agency will be more transparent and more accountable, driving down costs as it increases efficiency. This means taxpayers get a better deal and road users get a network that is fit for the future economic demands of this country, helping to create more jobs and support business growth.”

Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contactors Association, said: "In the past, the roads sector has suffered from boom-and-bust conditions that are hugely damaging to the smooth delivery of projects.

“These reforms will not only make the Highways Agency more efficient, but will also mean greater funding certainty for the construction sector."

The DfT will publish a long-term ‘Roads Investment Strategy’ later this year which will set out a “clear vision for the new company that will include a new plan for investment and performance requirements”.


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    The cost of road accidents is wildly exaggerated by including pain and suffering values far higher than are ever used elsewhere – e.g. when compensating soldiers and their families and also by assuming that all casualties “output” stops the moment they can no longer work. It does not stop, others take over to ensure that demand is met, that’s what happens in a market economy.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    A first class fit for purpose transport infrastructure including roads is vital for future sustained economic growth. However, is creating a new company and a couple of new quangos to supervise it the way go?

    The Highways Agency has performed well in some instances and not so well in others. Perhaps the government could have made significant changes in management and operational procedures to achieve its aims without the additional cost of the supervising bodies.

    We are told that the new government owned company will save the tax payer at least £2.6bn over the next 10 years. Road safety budgets have been cut to the bone, police service funding has been reduced to the point that roads policing units in some forces are a shadow of what they once were. The annual cost to the UK of road traffic collisions is estimated to be more than £10bn. Where’s the joined up thinking?

    Is there a hint of political spin doctoring here? On the other hand I could be a little too cynical. I wish the new company well and hope that it in conjunction with the two new supervisory bodies do the job they are intended to do and that my cynical thoughts prove unfounded.

    Mark – Wiltshire
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