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Description

National Highways is a government-owned company charged with operating, maintaining and improving motorways and major A roads in England. It also sets highways standards used by all four UK administrations, through the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. Within England, it operates information services through the provision of on-road signage and its Traffic England website, provides traffic officers to deal with incidents on its network, and manages the delivery of improvement schemes to the network.

Founded as an executive agency, it was converted into a government-owned company, Highways England, on 1 April 2015. As part of this transition, the UK government set out its vision for the future of the English strategic road network in its Road Investment Strategy. A second Road Investment Strategy was published in March 2020, with the company set to invest £27 billion between 2020 and 2025 to improve the network as described in the strategy. It was renamed to its current name on 19 August 2021.

History

The Highways Agency was created as an executive agency of the Department for Transport on 30 March 1994.

As part of the Department for Transport's 2010 Spending Review settlement, Alan Cook was appointed to lead an independent review of the government's approach to the strategic road network. It recognised that the Highways Agency was closer to central government than other infrastructure operators, resulting in a lack of a strategic vision and certainty of funding due to the wider policy environment in which it operated, as well as the limited pressure to drive efficiencies compared to that faced by regulated sectors. After an announcement on 27 June 2013 by Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, it became a government-owned company with the name Highways England on 1 April 2015.

Jim O'Sullivan became Chief Executive on 1 July 2015, replacing Graham Dalton.

In 2020, they launched an advertising campaign using the song "Go West" by The Village People and covered by The Pet Shop Boys. They changed the lyrics to Go Left, encouraging people to stop on the left hand side of the motorway.

On 19 August 2021, it was announced that Highways England would be rebranding to National Highways, a move coinciding with the permanent appointment of Nick Harris as CEO, after taking over as interim CEO from Jim O’Sullivan in February 2021. It was suggested that the 'national' in the new name refers to the fact that the company is responsible for setting highways standards for the whole of the UK, through the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, even though decisions on the building and maintenance of roads outside of England are devolved to the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The renaming has met with some criticism, being the third name for the agency in six years, and with reports that 'Highways Agency' is colloquially used more than either newer name. The name has also attracted criticism from the other countries of the UK, particularly in Wales where the use of 'national' has been criticised despite transport being devolved to Wales.

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COMPANIES IN ENGLAND


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