IHE president responds to Highways Agency reform plans

The president of the Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE) remains unconvinced by plans to turn the Highways Agency into a government-owned company. 

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin recently approved wide-ranging reforms to the HA that will see it become government-owned in less than a year.

But speaking in his President’s Blog, Richard Hayes (pictured) said: “This month has seen a great deal of changes within the highways industry.

“The announcement of the new governance arrangement for the Highways Agency appears not to have been significantly influenced by the consultation responses and it is debatable whether the creation of a wholly owned government company has an hidden agenda towards privatisation of the strategic network.

“This network may carry the bulk of the nation’s traffic but it only accounts for 2% of the total asset. The interface between the national and local networks is a very important one and how the two cooperate and communicate with each other is vital for the travelling public. The relationship requires close scrutiny in the future arrangements to ensure a seamless joint but I fear the proposals will only lead to a widening of the differences.

“Several arrangements are proposed including the roles of the Office of the Rail Regulator and Passenger Focus. Both are scrutiny organisations which suggest that the set up needs further thought or is just a stop gap proposal. The detail will be included in the next Queen’s Speech if it is to be implemented in the final year of this Parliament and I am confident that the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) will examine the details carefully.”

 

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