Has Highways England Forgotten Who It Serves?

Highways England is a Public Authority responsible for the Strategic Road Network (SRN) created by the government to engage directly in the economy for public purposes.  But the Authority appears to have lost its way and acts in the best interests of its contractors, working with them and their lawyers to create an environment in which the public can be fleeced.

It was not always that way.  It appears at or before 01/07/2014, the Authority’s intentions were honourable, considerate.  To prevent the public they are supposed to serve from being subject to unreasonable rates from their monopoly contractors, the contract with Kier Highways contained a ‘safety mechanism’* to protect ‘little people’*; those who inadvertently cause damage:

Appendix A to Annex 23

This small section fo the contract contains the simple, reasonable, equation by which the public is to be charged ‘no more than’, a formula to achieve the MAXIMUM sum to be charged. But:

  • from day-one, Kier ignored the section
  • Kier never once mentioned the Appendix
  • Highways England similarly kept it a secret ‘overlooking’ uploading the protection when placing the remainder fo the contract on-line

The Authority was very aware of the process but did nothin; they stood by and let road users become victims of greed and fraud.

Contractor operatives who patrol our hostile motorways, attend incidents (that could be horrific) in all manner of conditions, but likely have no knowledge they are a means to a profitable end.  Their attendance at events presents an opportunity to profiteer, make £millions.  Many facets of a collision are addressed by dedicated workers on the ground whose activities then see those operating in the safety of an office, manipulate and/or exaggerate and profiteer.  A contractor will stoop to fraud, another hide facts – both are prepared to mislead a Judge … in the name of Highways England.

The public represents helpless victims, carrion for these recovery-vultures to descend upon.  If their tactics are uncovered, the contractor will brazenly make false statements, supported by the Authority who will utilise public funds to defend or attack resulting in complications, obfuscation and delays – but no change.

On occasions, a contractor’s position is simply untenable but rather than capitulate and act honestly, a new ‘exaggeration in another form’ process is concocted.  Kier Highways had a particularly distasteful process of charging time-and-a-half for operatives who worked after 5pm of a weekday claiming (to a Court) this was paid to their workers – it was not.  This is ‘undoubtedly fraud’.  Yet the Authority, apparently supported by a KMPG audit (operation Verde) could find no fault and permitted continuance of the procedure.

 

Having established a process that appears designed to prevent drivers, fleets, hauliers and their insurers being overcharged and strong-armed by a contractor, the Authority failed to make it public (though the remainder of the contract was uploaded), kept quiet about it, as did the contractor.  Kier has never complied with the section and Highways England has permitted this.  Third parties are owed £millions.

What was so wrong with the section that Kier Highways did not wish to keep to the agreement … other than it put pay to exaggeration?


*references to usage in ‘Blade Runner’**:

  • safety mechanism – 4-year life span for the Nexus 6
  • ‘little people’ – Bryant  to Deckard “You’re not cop, you’re little people” i.e. a 2nd class citizen, have less power/control over your life and can be made to toe the line.

**’Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ Philip Dick

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