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Ministers clamp down on highway repairs

Local authorities that underperform in road maintenance could be named and shamed as part of a new efficiency drive, transport minister Norman Baker warned last week.

£6M programme

Baker has announced the creation of a new £6M local highways maintenance efficiency programme which aims to promote existing best practice and provide practical guidance and toolkits to increase efficiency.

Asked by NCE if there would be “naming and shaming” of underperforming councils, Baker said: “We don’t rule that out. I’m always happier to start with carrots rather than sticks, but we don’t rule that out.

“Obviously if there are very good examples, we want to draw attention to those. Similarly if there are very bad examples I’m sure local taxpayers will be interested.”

He said best practice “should have been taken on before” by local authorities.”We plan to remedy that now.”

He said it was for highways authorities to decide what approach to maintenance worked best. Options include using private finance, collaborating with other local authorities or taking maintenance back in house, as Cumbria County Council is to doing.

“It’s more about how local councils can empower themselves, take on responsibility, find new ways of working, including, very crucially with the private sector,” said Baker.

Baker also announced plans to produce a report on the causes of potholes.

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