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The government has decided to set up the Highways Agency as a government-owned strategic highways company – with the legal powers and duties to manage and run the roads, appointed by licence from the Secretary of State for Transport which sets clear conditions about how the company must act.

This will enable the Agency to give its staff performance related incentives and to free them from civil service pay restrictions.

We are told that discrete units will be set up within Passenger Focus and the Office of Rail Regulation – to represent the interests of all those who use and rely upon the strategic road network, and to monitor the efficiency and performance of the company.

I presume that the two organisations would change their names to something along the lines of  Passenger and Road User Focus and the Office of Rail and Strategic Highway Regulation.

It is not clear from the proposals how compliance with the EPA S89 (1)  would be affected by the changes. Responsibility for keeping the motorway verges in England clear of litter currently lies with the Secretary of State for Transport. I presume that this would be transferred to the new Highways Agency company by making them a Designated Statutory Undertaker, like Network Rail.

I had previously written to the Office of Rail Regulation in February about track-side litter and received a reply from their Chief Executive, Richard Price. On 1st May  I wrote to The Chief Executive of Passenger Focus, Anthony Smith, who kindly replied the very next day.

Neither body currently feels it is empowered, or sees it as an immediate priority, to take action on track-side litter.  As the ORR pointed out the legislative remedy is for a dissatisfied citizen to take action via the Magistrates court under EPA S91. I presume the same would apply in respect to motorway verge litter when their roles are expanded to include the new Highways Agency company.

PS to ORR 10th Feb 2014
ORR to PS 7th March 2014
PS to P Focus 1st May 2014
P Focus to PS 2nd May 2014
PS to P Focus 9th May 2014

Announcement by Robert Goodwill 30th April 2014
Impact Assessment 29 October 2013 (contains detailed case for proposed company)
Links to other documents

 Peter Silverman
20th May 2014

 

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