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MPs dispute need for Highways Agency overhaul

MPs have raised concerns over the government’s plan to overhaul the Highways Agency.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin last week approved proposals to make the Agency a government-owned company with a fixed, long term budget. The plan will now go to Parliament and could be in force within a year.

The government claimed the changes would save the taxpayer at least £2.6bn over the next decade, and make the new company more accountable to Parliament and road users.

But the cross-party Transport Committee said this morning: “We are not convinced by the case for establishing the Highways Agency as a government-owned company (GoCo).

“The benefits seem achievable through better management of the current agency and its relationship with the Department for Transport. We strongly support the five-year funding plans being introduced for the agency, but do not believe that a change in the agency’s status is required for their delivery.”

The select committee’s report, Better Roads, added: “If the Highways Agency becomes a GoCo, it will need a strong system of scrutiny. The current proposals for this are inadequate.

“The new scrutiny body will need the power of a full regulatory authority. The GoCo must view road users as customers and other organisations as partners in the delivery of an integrated transport network.”

Is the overhaul of the Highways Agency necessary? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.


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