The recently formed Highways Sector Council (HSC), whichhas been working with Government to support the highways sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been now formally launched.The Council, a partnership of private and public sector organisations,first came together in September 2019, and has been recently recognised by the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps. Partners include the UK’s leading highways contractors, local authority organisations and national agencies.The Council has beencreatedtohelptransform delivery in the highways sector, using a unifiedvoice and approach so the industry canwork in greater partnership withcentral and local government. It aimstodrive innovation across the sectortodeliver economic, environmental and social benefits for business, communitiesand all road users. Its work has been focused on developing a collaborative approach to transform and improve how the sector worksacross a number of key areas: peopleand skills, innovation, safety, environment, value, investment and delivery models. While this workcontinues, the HSC has also responded swiftlyto the challenges posed bythe coronavirus outbreak,particularly in the local highways sector,creating a COVID-19 focus working group.The grouphas been working closely with the Department for Transport, collating informationand providing guidanceon impacts with a focus onworking towards building a strongerprogramme for recovery to support the sector and the wider economy.To address immediate impacts,the COVID-19 group has focused ontwo key areas: •Developing guidancethat could be used by localhighway authoritiesand the wider supply chainto enable greater delivery of maintenance and capital schemes.•Practical guidance designedto enable the highways sector to operate safely within the current restrictionswhen working onlocal highways.
2Given that somelocal roadsprogrammeshave been reduced or paused, the outputs of this work will support the sector inbringing forward maintenance and highways projects, where it is safe and practical,to ensure that our roads can be maintained andremain fit for purposeduring this crisis and beyond.Leon Daniels OBE,Chair of the Highways Sector Council said: “The Council was established to transform how the highways sectordelivers. 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 dataand advicein this rapidly changing time is vital, both to keep our workforce safe and to support the development of rapidly changing policy-making.