Announcing public consultation over plans for the Highways Agency to become a government-owned company, roads minister Robert Goodwill has referred to setting up a new watchdog body that will allow “motorists to have a greater say in how their roads are run.”
Robert Goodwill is alo minister for cycling and walking.
The Highways Agency looks after the strategic road network of motorways and major A-roads, but some sections of that network are nevertheless used by cyclists because there are few or no viable alternatives.
One example is the A30 in Cornwall, where two cyclists were killed in July in a collision with a lorry. Other Highways Agency roads include sections with adjacent bike paths.
The Department for Transport plans to turn the Highways Agency into a road equivalent of Network Rail, that will manage the strategic network.
In a statement, Mr Goodwill said: “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 statement from the Department for Transport continued: “The new company will have a lot more freedom in day-to-day operational decisions, but will remain fully accountable to the Secretary of State for Transport, Parliament and, more importantly, to motorists.
“As set out earlier this year, the reforms to the Highways Agency are underpinned by legislation so future governments can not walk away from this commitment.
“The changes will also give the Highways Agency and its suppliers the confidence to recruit skilled workers and agree longer-term contracts that will save the taxpayer money.
“Next year, the department will set out the delivery expectations of the new government-owned company up to 2021.”
The department predicts that the change will yield savings of £2.6 billion over 10 years.
Want to make sure that the new body remembers that cyclists use some of the strategic network too? The details are set out in consultancy documents available from the page ‘Open consultation - Transforming the Highways Agency into a government-owned company’ and you can provide feedback on the plans from there too.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.