Government to press ahead with wide-ranging reforms to Highways Agency
Due to be completed in the next year, the changes will save the taxpayer at least £2.6bn over the next 10 years according to the DfT and will make the new company more accountable to Parliament and road users.
The proposals were first announced last October, with a consultation having taken place since then.
The changes approved by the Transport Secretary will see locked-in funding for the Agency plus the establishment of 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. These will be created with two expert transport bodies – Passenger Focus and the Office of Rail Regulation – and will provide transparent reports on roads issues.
The Department will now work to introduce the legislation needed to underpin these changes and plans to bring the new company into operation in April 2015.
Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘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.’
To help support the Government’s economic ambitions for the road network the Department for Transport will publish a long-term “Roads Investment Strategy” later this year. This strategy will set out a clear vision for the new company that will include a new plan for investment and performance requirements.