Highways England: Q and A with Malcolm Dare


The Government has made it clear that the highways and construction sector should continue operating throughout the coronavirus crisis. Taking up the challenge, Highways England has been determined to operate as close as possible to business as usual, even speeding up payment processes to give the supply chain a boost.

With his regular messages to the sector executive director of commercial and procurement, Malcolm Dare, has been leading the charge. He speaks to Dominic Browne about how Highways England is keeping the roads sector moving.

What back up plans do you have to maintain materials and supply chain support as this may start to run dry during the crisis?

Our approach is to maintain flexibility so we can blend in with labour availability in order to optimise resources.

How do you plan to support workers who would be away from home on projects as there are no hotels for them to stay in?

We have adjusted the place of work requirements and also issued letters to companies that have requested them. By doing this we are supporting our supply chain in dealing with this challenge.

Have you established any difference between essential work that must continue and non-essential work that you will shut down? Or will all work continue?

Safety, as always, remains our first priority. Our approach to the COVID-19 challenges is focused on safely maintaining our critical services at all times and minimising the impact on our supply chain, our customers and our staff.

Everyone knows that the roads would be less safe without traffic officers, control rooms and without maintenance and repair teams. Likewise, our construction activities are safest when they are working to plan – we do not want to leave sites unattended and unmanaged due to the risks that presents. Further, we want our roads ready for when restrictions are lifted, traffic returns and the next phase of work is due.

For these reasons, and subject to future Government policy, we intend to continue construction at our sites as close to plan as possible in accordance with the Public Health England guidance. We’re following Government advice and will continue to operate as close to business as usual for the foreseeable future to ensure that we support and protect our supply chain.

We ask that all suppliers support their own supply chains in the same way, making a combined effort to minimise the risk to the overall Highways England supply chain.

It has also made it clear that travel is permitted where necessary e.g. for construction workers operating on sites.

We ask the supply chain to ensure that their teams have the maximum possible protection aligned to the latest government advice and that they are minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19 so that we can continue to operate safely while fully supporting our employees and the country.

Is work on smart motorways continuing, including work to highlight emergency areas which is due to be complete this spring?

Yes. We are fully supporting the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in following their policy that construction activity should continue where it can be undertaken in accordance with the Public Health England and industry guidance.

How have your staffing levels been affected by illness and self-isolation?

So far we have not seen a significant increase in absence, but we continue to follow Government advice and taking all appropriate and sensible precautions to protect and support people who work for us and on our behalf; we’re also ensuring that in so doing we maintain a safe road network.

How are you liaising with professional bodies and sector representatives to get any messages out?

Yes, we are using trade publications like yours and professional bodies so that we can ensure a breadth of coverage so that all tiers understand our direction and intent. Highways England is part of the Highways Sector Council and we have been joining the regular calls to discuss COVID-19, and we are also liaising with Government to ensure that key messages are communicated quickly and effectively.

Is there any work you are doing now to take advantage of lower traffic levels?

Traffic volumes have reduced as a result of travel restrictions and we’re assessing options. We want to ensure that any work we bring forward is planned, necessary and offers value for money and well as being deliverable in accordance with the Public Health England and industry guidance.

Any message to the sector?

We appreciate that these are challenging times and we would like to thank our suppliers for their support. We aim to operate as close to business as usual as possible so we can support the country and the supply base by ensuring cash flows through the tiers.

Should suppliers have any questions, business challenges or ideas that you’d like to share with us, get in touch at Corona.Information@highwaysengland.co.uk or through your normal point of contact within Highways England.

Highways jobs

Chief Executive

Competitive Salary
In this unique role, leading the UK’s first sub-national transport body, you’ll draw on your understanding of... North West England
Recruiter: Transport for the North

Head of Enforcement & Safety

£67,164 - £75,695
You will have responsibility for operational delivery of key services across the Borough, including... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Head of Outbreak Control (12-month FTC)

£67,164 - £75,695
You will need to demonstrate specific experience in working with the general public, including customer care initiatives such as London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Head of Highways, Traffic and Parking

£67,164 - £75,695
As Head of Highways, Traffic and Parking, reporting into the Assistant Director for Highways and Environment, you will have responsibility for... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Assistant Director of Public Realm

£92,700 to £101,423
As Assistant Director of Public Realm you will provide the strategic direction for, and management of a range of services designed to ensure... London (Greater)
Recruiter: Havering London Borough Council

Senior Infrastructure Server Engineer (Senior Data Centre Engineer)

£41,952 - £48,663 per annum
The successful candidate will have a BSc in relevant discipline, or equivalent industry experience. Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Programme Officer (Transport)

£32,910 - £36,922
As a Senior Programme Officer for strategic transport, you will play a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of transport policy for... Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Senior Construction Team Leader.1347

£28,672 - £32,234 per annum
You will act as first line manager for the operational construction, depot & highways teams to ensure the best use of available resources to... Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Transport Planner

£26,025 - £38,616 depending on skills
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Sustainable Transport Lead

£39,000- £45,000 per annum
Do you have experience in climate action and community led projects? Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Publica

Highway Development Control Manager (Highways and Engineering)

£35,662 - £41-811 per annum
We are looking for an exceptional candidate who can work with internal and external clients to assess the transport and highways elements of... Calderdale, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

Conservation Officer

£26,025 - £38,616 depending on skills
Do you have passion and enthusiasm for the historic built environment?  London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Project Manager - Waste Management

Up to £47389 per annum
Project Manager - Waste ManagementFixed Term, 24 monthsFull Time, 37 hours per weekUp to £47,389 per annumLocation
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Programme Manager - Waste Management

£51510 - £62842 per annum
Programme Manager - Waste ManagementPermanent, Full TimeUp to £62,842 per annumLocation
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Senior Planner (Policy)

£33,543 - £46,962
Are you looking for working arrangements that enhance your work-life balance? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Deputy Director - Neighbourhoods

c. £100k
This role will take the lead on a wide range of our public facing services... Bexley (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Bexley

Director, Environment and Waste

Attractive Remuneration Package      
As the biggest County Council in the country, there is a fantastic opportunity to make a big difference. Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

Corporate Director, Growth, Environment and Transport

Attractive Remuneration Package      
This is a great time to join Kent County Council.  Kent
Recruiter: Kent County Council

CPP Engineer x2

£19,698- £35,745
Wirral is home to vibrant, energetic and engaged communities, people who take real ownership of their local area and are passionate about... Wirral, Merseyside
Recruiter: Wirral Borough Council

Asset Manager

£38,705 (pro rata for part time)
We have a new role waiting for you to join us as an Asset Manager (Carriageways, Footways and Street Furniture). Suffolk
Recruiter: Suffolk County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Highways Heroes Special

View the latest issue

Latest Video