The appointment of Chris Grayling as the government’s new Transport Secretary has been welcomed by the highways sector.
Mr Grayling took over from Patrick McLoughlin last week following Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle.
Highways Term Maintenance Association (HTMA) executive director Geoff Allister said: “HTMA welcomes the appointment of Chris Grayling as Secretary of State for Transport and wishes him every success. A well maintained road network is critical to the economic and social development of our communities. A long-term asset management approach, allied to increased levels of funding, is required to bring our road network up to an acceptable standard and arrest the decline caused by years of under investment.
“Recent increases in capital maintenance budgets are welcome. However, in light of the referendum outcome, HTMA would welcome a firm commitment to these levels of spend as a minimum.
“Road maintenance funding stimulates the local and national economies, brings jobs and growth for businesses and improves the condition of our roads. The road maintenance industry is a major employer offering long-term careers to men and women in management, customer relations, engineering and technology and can play a key part of the UK’s future economic development. It is important that tax payers get maximum value from the scarce funds that are invested in the road network.”
George Lee, chief executive of the Road Safety Markings Association (RSMA), said: “We welcome Chris Grayling to the post of Secretary of State for Transport and wish him success. Transport is critical to the economy, the environment and to our quality of life.
“Road traffic remains the UK’s biggest single killer of young people and the biggest risk most of us face in our daily lives. Last year 1,806 people were killed on the UK’s roads.
“We urge the new Secretary of State to reaffirm the government’s commitment to reducing the number of road users killed and seriously injured every year. We also urge him to ensure adequate resources to deliver the valuable actions in his Department’s British Road Safety Statement (December 2015). These actions are not radical or controversial but require strong leadership to work across government departments and with multiple organisations and disciplines.
“Time and again, research shows that commitment to routine maintenance, done to specified standards, saves lives. The Secretary of State must support planned spend – not just on our strategic road networks – but also on those maintained by cash-strapped local authorities, where the majority of deaths and injuries occur.”
David Davies, executive director for the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “We welcome Chris Grayling to the post of Secretary of State for Transport and wish him success. While transport may not be top of the Whitehall pecking order, it is hugely important to the economy, the environment and to our quality of life. It is a very capable and professional department with considerable technical expertise and knowledge.
“Though not a major spending item, transport safety has always been a key responsibility of the Secretary of State for Transport and his or her department. It requires a multi-disciplinary approach and good coordination.”
The RAC’s Nick Lyes said: “A new Prime Minister and changes to the Cabinet could mean a change of priorities. Motorists have in recent years benefited from a prolonged fuel duty freeze and a focus on upgrading the strategic road network. But what motorists need in this era of uncertainty is clarity that the government will continue to be on their side. This means helping motorists, businesses and the economy by not increasing fuel duty, and sticking with the long-term vision of investment for our strategic road network. Traffic volumes are now at record levels and to avoid gridlock the RAC seeks assurances that the Road Investment Strategy will continue to be implemented in full, and that guarantees for investment beyond 2020 will be kept.
“It is also vitally important that the new Transport Secretary and Chancellor work together to come up with a long-term funding solution to improve the state of local roads. Potholes are causing damage to our nation’s vehicles – as the RAC reported, in 2015 there was a 24% year-on-year rise in pothole damage related call-outs. The state of our local roads is now so serious that motorists tell us that fixing the problem is their number one priority.”