THE Highways Agency has won a court battle with its contractors over the cost of maintaining trunk roads in East Anglia.

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Atkins maintains trunk roads in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, and north Cambridgeshire – and is given a fixed sum by the agency to carry out routine maintenance including repairing road surfaces after bad weather.

The company’s contract with the Agency includes a fixed sum to carry out repairs, and it had claimed that the harsh winters of the last few years had caused more damage so the Agency’s fee should be increased.

However the High Court rejected that argument – saying that was a risk the company had taken when it agreed the five-year deal.

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said the decision would not change the way roads were maintained.

She added: “Safety is our top priority and we work hard to ensure that England’s motorway and trunk road network is among the safest in the world. This is managed through contracts with service providers.

“It (the decision) will not impact on our roads as our service provider is contractually bound to undertake regular inspections to identify issues on our road network, including potholes.

“When road surface defects such as potholes occur, the cost of their repair forms part of a fixed lump sum payment to our area maintenance contractors.”

A spokesman for Atkins said all the work required under the contract had been carried out – the issue was whether an extra sum should be paid because of the harsh weather.

He added: “We accept the court’s decision and will continue to work with the Highways Agency to provide a safe and well maintained road network.”

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