New Highways Agency Could Save Taxpayers £2.6 Billion
Highways Agency Likely To Become Government-Owned Company
The Highways Agency could be transformed into a government-owned company that saves the taxpayer £2.6 billion over the next ten years. As things stand, it is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport – which is a semi-independent organisation responsible for implementing the government's objectives, e.g. to maintain roads. The government has claimed that creating a company would give the Highways Agency a “high degree of day-to-day freedom by removing central government from operational decisions”. This could protect it from the varying objectives of successive ministers. It might also allow it to “create clear incentives to drive efficiency” that save money and resources. Furthermore, a watchdog could be created to “better reflect the views of motorists” and monitor the company's performance. So, the government has - before finalising any details – launched a consultation seeking the public's views on its proposals.
Minister Discusses Highways Agency Company
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “This government has committed to the biggest ever investment in our road network worth £50 billion over the next 15 years, but we need to make sure it is spent wisely. Transforming the Highways Agency into a government-owned company means long-term savings for the taxpayer, and making sure our roads are fit for the 21st century – supporting jobs and growth across the economy.” He added: “I also want motorists to have a greater say in how their roads are run and that is why I have proposed an independent watchdog - free from government - is set up to make sure the Highways Agency is delivering the wants, needs and expectations of motorists.
Role Of The Highways Agency
The Highways Agency was created in March 1994 to support the country's economy by operating, maintaining, and improving the Strategic Road Network in England. This incorporates more than four-thousand miles of motorway and a-roads that move people/goods. Whereas this only accounts for approximately two percent of the country's roads by length, it carries one-third of all traffic by mileage. Significantly, this includes two-thirds of heavy goods vehicle traffic which is vital to the economy. The Agency's typical tasks include improving key routes to better cope with traffic. Details of any forthcoming initiatives can be found on its website. It also operates smart motorways, sets the standards building constructors must adhere to and keeps motorists up to date with traffic information.