Roads Minister Andrew Jones has highlighted the demonstrations being carried out at this year’s Highways SIB (Seeing is Believing) event as a “stand out feature”.
Highways SIB is Europe’s only event for indoor showcasing of highway products as well as outdoor demonstrations in all lighting conditions and is taking place at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire from 9-10 November.
The event features an integrated conference programme and two full days of live full-scale outdoor demonstrations and displays covering maintenance, safety, technology, lighting, signage and road markings.
Mr Jones (pictured) was due to speak at the show, but was unable to attend in person. In a statement, which was delivered on his behalf to event delegates, he told Highways Magazine: “I strongly believe that events like this help us to share ideas, make contacts and debate the future of the industry. A stand out feature of today's event is that you can actually see much of what is being discussed out on the track or in the exhibition area. Events like this can help deliver a better-maintained and safer highway network. That's what we all want to see.”
Highlighting the Government’s £15 billion Road Investment Strategy, Mr Jones continued: “The Government published the country's first Road Investment Strategy in 2014. This set out a long term vision for the transformation of our motorways and major roads with stable funding to plan ahead effectively. It outlined how the Government is investing around £15 billion in over 100 major schemes across England over five years. We are now working on the second Strategy.
“A well maintained highway network is vital for road users, for local residents, for UK industry and for the economy as a whole. That is why it deserves the investment the government is making. The Government is providing £6.1 billion to local highways alone from 2015 to 2021 for maintenance. This includes £250 million between now and 2021 to help fix potholes on the local roads. But it's not just the cash, we're also providing tools and guidance to help highway authorities meet their duties in maintaining and improving their local highway network.”
The Minister also revealed that in the coming weeks the Government will be launching the next round of the Local Highways Maintenance Incentive Element and announcing the second tranche of the Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.
On the subject of asset management, he said: “The public wants to know their money is being well-spent. That is why the adoption of proper asset management is so important. Asset management is a well-established discipline to help organisations manage their physical assets delivering proven benefits. Benefits include financial efficiencies, improved accountability and stewardship, better value for money and improved customer service.
“The use of asset management planning is so important that last year it became one of the key principles we tied to local highways maintenance funding via the Self-assessment Questionnaire and Efficiency Incentive money.”
Talking about the Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP), Mr Jones confirmed that the Department for Transport will continue to play a patronage role.
“The Programme will be taken forward by four sector delivery partners, under the guidance of an advisory group that will still include DfT. The HMEP Board worked exhaustively with potential partners to identify the most appropriate arrangements. It is our intention to work with Local Partnerships, the Local Government Association (LGA), the National Highways and Transportation Network (NHT) and the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT). There is a session on Day One of 'Seeing is Believing' where my officials and others will be setting out the arrangement in more detail.”
Going forward in the coming weeks and months, Mr Jones stated that the Government will be making further announcements on local highways.
“This will include a call for action from the sector and beyond for greater innovation, improved resilience and really exploiting the wealth of digital data available. I continue to be encouraged by the work taking place across the sector. It's increasingly recognised that investing in road assets and embracing more efficient and effective highways maintenance practices make a real and positive difference. Ultimately it will enable funding to go much further and all of us to deliver much more. I hope you all benefit from what you see, hear and contribute at this event.”