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Government Unveils New Plan To Manage Major Roads

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0700

ALONGSIDE charges for plastic bags, the Queen’s Speech also contained legislation that will change the way England’s motorways and major A-roads are managed.

As part of the Infrastructure Bill, the changes will see the current Highways Agency (HA) transformed into a Government-owned company.

Behind the move is a desire by the Government to save taxpayers at least £2.6 billion over the next 10 years. Crucially, the decision has also ben designed to make the new company more accountable to Parliament and to road users.

A new body within the Office of Rail Regulation will oversee the roads network, while another new organisation within customer watchdog Passenger Focus will protect the interests of motorists and other road users.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin described the new company as being "more transparent and more accountable" and an organisation which will drive down costs as it increases efficiency.

He added: "This means taxpayers get a better deal and road users get a network that is fit for the future economic demands of this country, helping to create more jobs and support business growth."ends

In response to the changes, AA president Edmund King said: "We broadly welcome the potential for longer-term stable funding for the UK's strategic road network.

"The benefits should include better financial efficiency, more stream-lined decision-making and increased productivity.

"However, some of our members remain sceptical of what this change will mean to them. From a poll of 21,587 AA members, carried out by Populus in November, 42% disagree with plans to create the road company.

"The biggest fear, from 68% of the sample, is that the move will pave the way to an eventual sell-off of the roads. Only 4% support privatisation of the strategic road network. We will monitor the changes to ensure road users get a good deal.”

By Press Association reporters