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MPs damn Highways Agency cost overruns


THE Highways Agency has been slammed for failing to contain major road building costs and risking millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.

MPs on the Commons transport committee said if Highways Agency cost overruns continue at the current rate, projects begun before 2003 could cost 50 per cent more than originally estimated with an extra bill of more than £1 billion.

Committee chairwoman Gwyneth Dunwoody said: 'Project planning is not up to standard. Staff management leaves much to be desired.

We remain sceptical that the Agency's present leadership is pulling its weight.'

A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'We are already addressing some of the points the committee identified, including the commissioning of an independent review of the Highways Agency approach to cost estimating and project management, which is due to report in the autumn.'

One industry source said: 'The Highways Agency has been accused of not budgeting correctly for a long time now. Time and again you see schemes go up and up because the agency has set them too low in the beginning.'