Supporting the highways sector during the pandemic

The Highways sector Council is supporting the highways sector during the pandemic.
Maintenance / April 20, 2020 1 minute 25 seconds Read
By MJ Woof
Road repair and maintenance work has to continue - image ©courtesy of Mike Woof

The recently former Highways Sector Council (HSC) has now been launched and is working with UK Government to support the highways sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council is a partnership of private and public sector organisations and first came together in September 2019. It has now been recognised by the Secretary of State for Transport. Partners include the UK’s leading highways contractors, local authority organisations and national agencies.

The HSC is intended to help transform delivery in the highways sector, so the industry can work in partnership with central and local government. It aims to drive innovation across the sector to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for business, communities and all road users.

Its work has been focused on developing a collaborative approach to transform and improve how the sector works across a number of key areas: people and skills, innovation, safety, environment, value, investment and delivery models. While this work continues, the HSC has also responded swiftly to the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak, particularly in the local highways sector, creating a COVID-19 focus working group.

The group has been working closely with the Department for Transport, collating information and providing guidance on impacts. The focus is on working towards building a stronger programme for recovery to support the sector and the wider economy.

To address immediate impacts, the COVID-19 group has focused on two key areas. The first is developing guidance that could be used by local highway authorities and the wider supply chain to enable greater delivery of maintenance and capital schemes. The second is for practical guidance designed to enable the highways sector to operate safely within the current restrictions when working on local highways.

Given that some local roads programmes have been reduced or paused, the outputs of this work will support the sector in bringing forward maintenance and highways projects. This is to ensure that roads can be maintained and remain fit for purpose during this crisis and beyond.

Leon Daniels, Chair of the Highways Sector Council said: “The Council was established to transform how the highways sector delivers. In creating this powerful alliance, we want to drive through change by addressing the challenges we face as a sector including decarbonisation, new technologies, skills, investment and delivery models.

“COVID-19 hasn’t changed this commitment, but it has given a new urgency to our work, enabling us to work swiftly and collectively during this time of national crisis.

“As a partnership, our work in providing the Government with critical data and advice in this rapidly changing time is vital, both to keep our workforce safe and to support the development of rapidly changing policy-making.”

Private sector members include: AECOM, Amey, Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Costain, FM Conway, Eurovia Ringway, Jacobs, Kier, Leon Daniels and Associates Ltd, Mott MacDonald, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska, Tar mac.

Public sector members include: Association of Directors or Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT), Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT), Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT), England’s Economic Heartland, Highways England. Supporter members include: Highways UK, Local Government Association