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Highways Agency reshuffle ramps up cost cutting drive

The Highways Agency has promoted procurement boss David Poole to a board-level role overseeing its cost cutting drive.

Poole will head a new directorate created by merging the Agency’s commercial and procurement divisions.

He previously headed the Agency’s procurement division, and reported to network services director Ginny Clarke.

“The latest changes recognise that the drive for efficiencies applies to the whole business,” said an Agency spokesman this week.

“Commercial activity is now about a lot more than just controlling and reducing the costs of major projects.

The work of the commercial and procurement divisions runs across the whole the business, so the merger is logical.”

Poole was instrumental in forming the Agency’s new cost cutting asset support contracts (ASCs). He will be responsible for the Agency meeting the latest efficiency targets set by the Department for Transport (DfT) for the period 2013-15.

The DfT has specified that the Agency will achieve 20% savings across its programme of 20 major projects funded since the government’s 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review.

The Agency will cut its traffic management budget by a fifth by remodelling the Traffic Officer service, as well as reducing annual maintenance spending from £900M to £700M by the end of 2014/15.

Meanwhile, civil engineer David Brewer is to join the Agency as director for asset delivery, and will manage reductions in maintenance spending.

Brewer will take up his post in July following the retirement of network delivery and development director and deputy chief executive Derek Turner.

“The network delivery and development division has been renamed ‘asset delivery’ just to make the roles and responsibilities clearer,” said the Agency spokesman.

Brewer’s division is responsible for all routine maintenance and small to medium capital improvement projects on the Agency’s network.

Most of this work is delivered through the Agency’s managing agent contracts and its new ASCs.

Brewer will join the Agency from Global Renewables, a waste-to-energy joint venture between Lend Lease and Australian energy contractor GRD Minproc, which he joined in 2009.

Before that he was responsible for delivery of capital improvement works at Gatwick Airport for BAA before the airport’s change of ownership.

One former colleague of Brewer’s at Gatwick Airport contacted by NCE this week said he was fully capable of taking on his new role at the Highways Agency.

“He’s a good guy, certainly knows his stuff,” Brewer’s former colleague said. “David stood out as someone very adept at business change within capital works delivery.”

The Highways Agency’s commercial division was established in the wake of the 2007 Nichols report, which was commissioned to investigate cost over-runs across the Agency’s trunk road and motorway projects.

The Nichols report focused on major projects, which explains why the Agency’s commercial division reported to major projects director Peter Adams.

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