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.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.