Transport Minister Norman Baker has called on local highway authorities to adopt greater use of efficiency practices to ensure the £6 billion funding from the Department for Transport goes as far as possible.
Speaking at an event organised by the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) and the Local Government Association (LGA) the Minister (pictured) referred to the Government's long-term commitment to increased funding for authorities announced in the Spending Review.
He said: “What I and the Secretary of State are keen to see is that where we are providing more funds with certainty over a longer period, and the tools to do things more efficiently that local authorities more widely adopt initiatives such as HMEP to help to bring the rest up to the standard of the best by making the level of transformational change required and to realise significant savings.”
And, while he fully recognised that there are “major differences in how highway teams deliver services local authorities should look to adopt and share the most effective practices available because experiences of what works had not yet reached all parts of the country".
He concluded by saying that “councillors with an electoral mandate are uniquely equipped to drive through significant change and to help make this happen” citing examples such as Surrey County Council where the involvement of their elected member, highways team and HMEP had already helped the council to realise over £16m of efficiency savings and to adopt a more strategic approach to longer-term planning and delivery of highway infrastructure.
Speaking about his experience John Furey, cabinet member at Surrey County Council, said: “At Surrey County Council, roads remain a key priority for our businesses and wider community. We believed it was vital for the cabinet to be proactive, to seize the opportunity and to actively support this important work programme. We fully supported our highways team by collaborating with HMEP, our network and supply chain to listen, learn and adapt our ways of working.”
The Minister also welcomed the HMEP Potholes Review: follow-up report that explains how defects are being positively tackled across the country through innovative practices, a clearer understanding of what works and greater knowledge sharing and collaboration.
The Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) LGA event welcomed around 50 guests drawn from councillors, elected members and highway teams to share and develop good practice for the efficient delivery of highways infrastructure maintenance.