Highways England hits back at claims of 'shadow privatisation'


Highways England has hit back at suggestions the management of the motorway network is about to be handed to private firms, labelling the reports ‘completely untrue’.

The Times newspaper has claimed that the Department for Transport are looking for a ‘programme management partner’ to oversee Highways England’s £11bn five-year investment programme.

A consortium of American firm, CH2 Hill, which has worked on Crossrail, Mace the London-based engineering consultants and accountants PWC are named as the companies set to win the contract.

Transport Network contacted all three firms. Only CH2 Hill was available and it declined to comment. 

The Times quotes from papers it has seen, which state the consortium would ‘provide secondments to fill specific programme management roles and mentoring and on-the-job training to support upskilling Highways England staff’.

Described as a ‘shadow privatisation’ and ‘one of biggest outsourcings of public service into private hands in Whitehall’s history’, The Times suggests the move would take management control for the trunk network out of Highways England’s hands.

However the government-owned company, formed out of the old Highways Agency, rejected the claims today.

A spokesman said: ‘It is completely untrue to say that a contract has been let to manage Highways England. We employ a wide range of contractors to help us deliver our work, these suppliers are employed to deliver valuable specialist advice, skills and capabilities.’

Transport Network understands that a contract to increase skills and provide advice to Highways England on programme delivery is being let, however its remit and size does not suggest it is the equivalent of handing over control of the RIS.

Transport Network understands the value of the contract is £65m over four years, making it even less than the value of contracts for maintaining individual sections of the SRN.


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