LETTER:Responsible for building roads

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The Independent Online
From Mr Lawrie Haynes

Sir: Christian Wolmar ("Road-building plan collapses amid chaos", 13 March) believes that work on the road programme has stopped while ministers conduct a national transport debate. This is not true.

Last April, the Secretary of State for Transport set up the Highways Agency and delegated to me the management and maintenance of the trunk road network and the delivery of his programme of trunk road improvement schemes. He retains responsibility for the policy and longer term issues of transport provision.

The national transport debate, welcomed by Mr Wolmar in his article "Deliver us from motor hell, Dr Mawhinney" (4 January) does not affect the day- to-day business I have of managing the network and building roads. As an agency, we can focus on delivering our business plan targets and ensure value for money for the taxpayer. These targets can be affected by a number of different circumstances, such as bad weather or unexpected ground conditions. It is the agency's job to manage those circumstances, making the best use of our resources; so as some work is delayed, other work is brought forward. This is good business practice. As Mr Wolmar points out we have met some of our targets ahead of schedule; for example, last week we opened the Leadenham bypass three months early.

In addition to our targets, the Secretary of State for Transport, Dr Mawhinney, is keen that we explore ways to improve our business. We are working an a number of initiatives, including reviewing the way we contract out our work, researching new traffic management techniques, the establishment of a road users committee to give us a better customer focus and a new environmental division to co-ordinate our work on the environment.

We have had a busy first year establishing a new organisation from four separate divisions. Once the new structure is in place, we will be able to make sure the public gets the best possible service out of the trunk road network.

Yours faithfully

LAWRIE HAYNES

Chief Executive

Highways Agency

London, SE1

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