Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
This written statement provides an update on the work of my department in considering the next steps for the arrangements associated with the management and operation of the Motorway and Trunk Roads in Wales.
Welsh Ministers are directly responsible for the operation, maintenance and improvement of the Motorway and Trunk Road Network in Wales, an asset worth approximately £13.5bn. If not managed efficiently and effectively on a day to day basis the resulting unplanned maintenance causes significant delay and disruption to the public and business. Therefore, as well as providing value for money, the highway service delivery model must be highly responsive and agile enough to scale up and down to meet changing priorities.
The day to day operation, maintenance and improvement of the network is currently carried out on behalf of Welsh Ministers by two public sector agents. Staff in the South Wales Trunk Road Agent are employed by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. Staff in the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agent are employed by Gwynedd County Council.
The current model is the outcome of a process of continuous review and improvement which resulted in the number of public sector agents being reduced from 8 to 3 in 2005 and from 3 to 2 in 2012.
A recent review of the current operational arrangements has shown that there is merit in considering further changes to the management and delivery structures, so as to obtain more improvements in service delivery and Value for Money.
The continuing budget pressures and the need for ever increasing levels of service standards to ensure minimal delays to business and the public using the roads network means change is now needed. I have therefore decided to bring the management of the road network much closer to the Welsh Government.
I am currently considering a number of delivery options for achieving this quickly.
I will provide a further update on this matter, following completion of the more detailed analysis in the autumn. I intend to introduce changes in 2015.