Highways England deserves hair-dryer treatment from MP

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge inspects the delayed roadworks on the A12 with Aran Nugent of Highw

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge inspects the delayed roadworks on the A12 with Aran Nugent of Highways England.

As an infrequent user of the A12 south of Ipswich, I cannot fully appreciate the level of frustration that hits drivers who use it every day.

But it must be a real pain for those who have to use this road day-in and day-out as the roadworks continue on and on and on.

Frankly, the organisation of these roadworks has been a disgrace – and the agency responsible for inflicting them on the poor motorists should hang its head in shame.

I really hope that South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge gives the senior engineers from Highways England the hair-dryer treatment when he meets them at the road tomorrow.

Let’s just look at what’s happened on the A12 over the last six months.

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Preliminary work started in December and the full work of resurfacing the road, repairing crash barriers, and repairing drains started at the beginning of the year. Someone at the Highways Agency (as it was then called) looked at the programme, looked at the plans to carry it out overnight, and decided it would take three months to complete.

The road would be finished in three months. In winter.

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The winter of 2015 was one of the mildest anyone can remember. It wasn’t particularly wet. It didn’t have the gales and storms we’ve suffered in recent years.

Yet in March the completion date was delayed until the end of May. Why? Bad weather! What did they expect between January and March? Engineers working in shorts and T-shirts? Temperatures reaching the 80s? Give me strength!

Just before bank holiday Monday I drove to Colchester. I didn’t think the road looked as if it would be ready in just over a week, so the next day I rang Highways England to find out if it was on schedule.

“I don’t know,” I was told. “And the only person who does know is on leave. I assume it is or I think we would know.”

So are we to believe that in the whole Highways England organisation, there is only one person who knows whether work on a major road is on schedule?

Two days later it seemed that he (or she) had returned to work and was able to tell us that no, the work had been delayed again because of “issues with plant” and “various operational issues”.

It will now take until the end of this month – twice as long as planned.

Against all this background, we have had calls from motorists who have used the road overnight who have said they rarely see any activity there – and cannot believe how the work has been organised.

Frankly, those who have planned this work need to take a long, hard look at how it was organised. It’s turning into an utter fiasco.

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