Call for Government to axe roads agency

THE North East Essex branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has issued a demand for the Highways Agency to be scrapped as part of the Government’s cull of quangos.

The branch committee is calling on Ministers to disband the agency, transferring its strategic and motorway management responsibilities to the Department for Transport and devolving its other responsibilities for managing the road network to county councils.

Iain Wicks, chairman of the FSB’s North East Essex branch, said: “For around two years now we have been watching the way the Highways Agency works as one of the organisations within the A12 Alliance and, to be frank, we have been less than impressed.

“The Highways Agency seems to be bureaucratic and unwieldy, reluctant to respond to traffic management needs identified locally and slow in preparing schemes for consideration and it is that experience that has led us to call for its abolition.”

Mr Wicks added: “We hope that the Government will act swiftly as we are convinced that significant savings of taxpayers money could be achieved while at the same time improvements to the service could be implemented.”

The A12 Alliance was formed in 2008 following a recommendation by Sir David Rowlands who chaired an Essex County Council-led commission on improving traffic flows on the key north-south route between London and East Anglia.

It covers the trunk road section of the A12 from its junctions with the M25 London orbital motorway and the A14 at Ipswich.

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Besides the Highways Agency, which is responsible for the UK’s trunk road network, members of the alliance members include the county councils and police forces for both Suffolk and Essex, the East of England Development Agency, the Haven Gateway Partnership and the Essex Business Consortium, of which the FSB is part.

Nobody at the Highways Agency was available yesterday to comment of the FSB’s complaints.