The chairman of Highways England has provided an update on how the government owned company is performing in its Annual Report and Accounts 2015 to 2016.
In the chairman’s statement, Colin Matthews (pictured) outlines the board’s three key priorities which are to:
- Make roads safer for all users, including those who work on them
- Improve the experience of all road users
- Deliver the government’s five-year Road Investment Strategy.
On safety, he said: Although it is encouraging that our motorways and trunk roads have become safer over the years and rank amongst the safest in the world, there are still too many people who are killed or seriously injured. The 2015 national statistics on the reported road casualties in Great Britain shows a decrease in the number of people who were killed or seriously injured from 1,853 (in 2014) to 1,787 (in 2015). We regard it as our utmost priority to reduce this number further.”
Talking about the subject of improving HE’s service to road users, Matthews notes: “We are determined to improve customer service, even as the number of road users rise and as
increased investment leads to more roadworks in the short to medium term. For example, we are working to provide more accurate and timely information to drivers; to manage traffic flows better on busy stretches to reduce congestion; and carry out roadworks in ways which minimise the impact on road users.
Discussing the government’s Road Investment Strategy, Matthews acknowledged that delivering such large-scale improvements to the highest standard “requires a significant increase in the technical and commercial capacity of Highways England.”
He adds: “Over the year, we have started to recruit people with the specialist skills that are needed to meet our workload. Our partners in construction companies are doing likewise to commit the necessary resources that the five-year plan demands.
“In addition, Highways England is re-evaluating how to get the best results in working with our supply chain partners. For example, we are developing a new approach to road maintenance whereby Highways England will take a more direct lead in deciding when work is to be completed. To do so requires us to maintain within the company a detailed understanding of road condition, something which in recent years has been done by our supply chain partners.”
Looking forward, Matthews says that Highways England wholeheartedly supports the government’s aim that by 2040 the strategic road network will be smoother, smarter and more sustainable.
He continues: “This work represents a major investment in the country’s infrastructure, and, by harnessing the best technology, engineering and construction expertise, will bring significant gains to the country. Accordingly we are already looking beyond the first five years to prepare for the next period of investment.”
You can read Highways England’s annual report here.