Andrew Smith OBE, Philip Hoare & David Hodge welcome the government's long-term commitment to Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme.
Narrator: To counter the perception of HMEP being just a passing government ‘fad’, something that would peter out as quickly as it came about, Norman Baker, Minister for Local & Regional Transport, has committed the department to the programme up to 2018, a move warmly welcomed by the sector, no more so than by Hampshire’s Chief Executive, Andrew Smith.
Andrew Smith: I understand resources for it are being extended, I think this gives local government a chance to step up to the plate. I think the public has a high expectation that we’ll come together with partners, work with Whitehall and also engage with the private sector in doing the best for our communities. I think that’s what the expectation is I think this programme gives us the benefit to do that. I think a ministerial initiative at this level that trying to bring together a significant number of local authorities to work in a collaborative way definitely helps when there is both Whitehall and ministerial support for that style of working.
Narrator: This sentiment has been echoed by the Highways Term Maintenance Association (HTMA) as its chair Philip Hoare explains.
Philip Hoare: I really welcome the commitment of the DfT that is being put into the HMEP programme. I think that one of our initial concerns was how we’d actually deliver within a two year programme, particularly when you think about some of the cultural change aspects that I think are required to ensure things are fully embedded. So we absolutely welcome the news to extend the programme to 2018 and certainly the HTMA will remain absolutely committed to that programme throughout its duration. And hopefully what we can create is a long lasting community that ensures we’re constantly striving for innovation and improvement in the highways sector.
David Hodge: Highways is a key area where all local authorities struggle up and down the country and we believe that by setting out clear objectives, a clear identity of what we wanted to achieve by working together, we now know we can deliver much better quality services, but at a lower cost and therefore it means we can do much more work to ensure the residents receive the benefit.
Philip Hoare: I firmly believe as the HTMA organisation, that we can, working with everyone across the sector deliver some real tangible savings. In figures we talked about a range of 20 to 30% and we believe those figures are achievable. It’ll be tough, it won’t be easy to drive that sort of cost out, but I think everybody recognises the challenge and importantly we’re really up for it.