SAVING: Highways Agency reformed
Taxpayers could benefit from savings of £2.6billion over the next ten years under proposed Highways Agency reforms, the government has insisted.
Under new plans, the Highways Agency will be turned into a government-owned company, with the coalition claiming the move will improve efficiency and reduce running costs.
A new watchdog for motorists will also be set up, as the way motorways and trunk roads are operated, maintained and developed face big changes.
The move follows the ‘Action for Roads’ command paper published earlier this year, which set out future challenges and detailed plans for road management.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “This government has committed to the biggest ever investment in our road network worth £50billion over the next 15years, but we need to make sure it is spent wisely.
“Efficiency savings are there to be made, but to secure these means changing how our motorways and trunk roads are managed and maintained.
“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.
“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.”
The Department for Transport claim the new Highways Agency will enjoy more freedom in day-to-day operational decisions, but remain fully accountable to the Secretary of State for Transport, Parliament and motorists.
Reforms to the Highways Agency are underpinned by legislation so future governments cannot walk away from the commitment.
Consultation on the proposed changes has now been opened by the government, with submissions accepted until December 20.
Outcomes will be reported by spring 2014.