Transport Minister Edwina Hart has updated Members on the work of her department to review the arrangements for 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 £13.5 billion.
In a statement, Hart said: “We need to ensure that this asset is managed efficiently and effectively on a day to day basis, as unplanned maintenance causes significant delay and disruption to the public and business.
“As well as providing value for money, the highway service delivery model must be highly responsive and agile enough to respond to meet changing priorities.
“Currently, the day to day operation, maintenance and improvement of the network is carried out on our behalf by two public sector agents. “Significant improvements have been made over the last 10 years to these arrangements, however, there is more that we can do.”
A review undertaken in late 2013 and early 2014 found that there was merit in considering further changes to the management and delivery structures, to improve service delivery and achieve value for money.
Hart added: “As a result of this review, I announced my intention to look at options for improving the management of the network and bringing it much closer to the Welsh Government.
Over the past five months, the review group has been considering a number of options. Our key aims are always to provide safe roads and to support the growth of the Welsh economy and our focus has been on considering options that best support this.
“To be effective, we need to ensure that the model is highly responsive to the needs of the public and business in Wales, is fully accountable, is agile enough to make the best use of funding opportunities, and is cost effective.
“The review concluded that greater direction and control over the service would be achieved by locating all planning staff within the Welsh Government.
“Therefore, I have agreed that from the 1st of April 2015 all eligible staff engaged in the planning of works will transfer into the Welsh Government, under TUPE regulations. It is estimated that this will affect around 20 to 30 staff, but this will be confirmed over the coming months.
In addition, I am challenging the two existing Trunk Road Agents, working with their local authority supply chain partners, to demonstrate substantial savings, both in their management costs and their routine maintenance and inspections. I would like to see evidence of these savings by April 2015, which will then be subject to an independent audit.”