Collaboration between the supply chain and the government-owned, contractor-operated replacement for the Highways Agency will be crucial in ensuring a smooth transition, agency officials have said.
Speaking at the launch of its Strategic Business Plan 2015-2020 on Tuesday, the Highways Agency’s commercial director David Poole reassured contractors that the approach taken by the agency, Highways England, would “absolutely be collaborative”.
Mr Poole said that without collaboration, the new company which is set to transform into a government-owned company next year to oversee £15bn in spending, would not meet its objectives.
Legislation is currently being passed through parliament via the Infrastructure Bill, which officials hope will be passed as an Act before the end of parliament.
If the bill passes on time and uninterrupted, the new company will start operating in April 2015, following publication of a detailed delivery plan in March.
Mouchel chief executive Grant Rumbles said the Highways Agency had a good track record in collaborative working with contractors in recent years.
He said that although competition was still an important part of the tendering process, the industry needed to ensure there was not a “constant battle” during procurement.
He added that competition should remain at the beginning of the cycle, after which supply chain collaboration and joined up thinking can begin and works could then be delivered.
Asked whether the agency was factoring in the impact other major infrastructure could have over the next decade, such as new nuclear plant Hinkley Point C, Highways Agency chief executive Graham Dalton said there was “some very grown up thinking” taking place in the industry on this.
“As an industry we are very good at talking about what is about to start and not what is about to finish. Crossrail for instance is shortly coming to an end so it’ll be important to migrate skills across.”
The Highways Agency is currently undertaking a recruitment drive to add around 500 employees to the 3,500 staff it employs at present.
This is the first five-year business plan that has been developed for England’s strategic road network and was in response to the government’s Roads Investment Strategy published last week.