Highways England

29th June 2017

In Parliament today, Shailesh Vara MP spoke of Highways England’s unacceptable attitude regarding serious concerns about the closure of a slip road on to the A1 (M) southbound at Junction 17 which is causing much misery and inconvenience to thousands of motorists.

Mr Vara wrote to Mr Jim O'Sullivan the Chief Executive of Highways England on 20th June 2017 and raised his concerns about the poor advance warning to motorists, the absence of engagement with parish councils and local councillors and the lack of proper thought  given to the diversion along the A15 - a route which already has roadworks taking place on it.

It took a whole week for Mr Vara to receive a standard acknowledgement to his letter to Mr O'Sullivan with the acknowledgement then saying that further investigation was necessary and it was hoped to provide a proper reply within the next 15 days, by which time the works will have been completed.

As well as the impact on motorists in Mr Vara's constituency, given that decisions taken by Highways England impact on millions of people throughout the country, Mr Vara asked the Leader of the House of Commons,  Andrea Leadsom MP, for a statement from the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, on whether the 'couldn't care less attitude' from Highways England is an acceptable way to behave.

Mrs Leadsom, in her reply said:
“Well I can well imagine what an irritation it is for his constituents, and certainly I would not be happy with an acknowledgement and then the pledge of a proper reply within two weeks.
I think for many public sector organisations they do respond very quickly to requests from Members of Parliament and I hope Highways England will have heard his remarks and give a very quick answer.”

Following the comments in the House of Commons Mr Vara said:
“The attitude of Highways England to serious concerns about this road closure is appalling. They clearly couldn’t care less about the huge problems caused to road users by their actions and they have no intention of doing anything about it, simply waiting for the problem to disappear when the works are completed. This is not the way for such a public body to behave and the Transport Secretary needs to make that clear to Mr O'Sullivan and the rest of the organisation.

“There remain significant questions to be answered and an urgent and full response to my concerns is what is required.”