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Highways help already on its way – PCC

Highways help already on its way – PCC

🕔21.Dec 2016

As the team at the Files begin to wind down for the festive break, ahead of the run-up to the inaugural West Midlands mayoral election in May 2017, we begin to conclude the year with the Police and Crime Commissioner and his specialist subject – dealing with serious motorway incidents.

Yesterday, Tuesday 20th December, a follow-up meeting called by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson (PCC) how responses to emergencies on the motorway has improved since a fatal crash on the M6 in February.

During the initial hearing in March, 11 recommendations were made. The focus of this latest meeting was to check on the progress.

Extra training for police officers, earlier access to crash sites and changes to the way Highways England works nationally are among the improvements, according to the PCC.

Improvements reported by the PCC have included:

  • Much more information put on police logs for all agencies to use.
  • Highways England now has earlier supervised access to crash sites to assess the carriageway and traffic management needs.
  • More training for CMPG and Highways England officers.
  • Highways England now mobilises repair materials to incidents immediately.
  • Major incident training workshops led by Highways England.
  • Highways England now has a major incident hotline where its partners can reach it straight away.
  • Highways England is working to improve its social media output so it can connect with drivers quicker. The police has also boosted real-time information on its social media feeds.
  • Improved communication and collaboration between all agencies.
  • Damaged road surfaces are now planed down, allowing traffic to get moving again quicker.
  • A fact-finding visit to London’s traffic control centre, which managed the Olympic Games traffic issues, has been organised to learn lessons about how they deal with major incidents and events.

The hearing was told how these improvements have already strengthened the response to incidents on the motorway – nationally as well as regionally. For example, following a severe fire on the M6 northbound earlier this year, all three damaged lanes were resurfaced much earlier as a result of these new ways of working.

However, as always, there is still much work to be done and the upcoming construction of HS2 poses other challenges all groups will need to take into account.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said:

These hearings have proved to be extremely worthwhile, with a number of improvements made as a result. This just goes to show what PCCs can achieve if they think a little differently.

We’ve come a long way since February but we still have an incredible amount of work to do. Obviously, HS2 is the elephant in the room and if things aren’t spot on now, the challenges will be truly vast – the process of construction could seriously undermine our economy during that time. We need to make sure we are prepared for HS2 and its construction doesn’t bring our region to a standstill.

One thing is certain, the problems we have on the roads cannot be solved by one organisation: they are issues for all of us and we must all play our part. The Combined Authority will have a major role in bringing all these things together.

Following yesterday’s hearing, an initial report will be published before Christmas, followed by a more in-depth document in the new year. The PCC will also be meeting government ministers about the issues and the work he has done.

In addition to the upcoming challenges HS2 may bring to our roads, alongside M6 toll debates, train performance issues and, thankfully, last minute airport strike cancellations, it’s reasonably positive transport news for both Highways England and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner to end the year on.

We can be sure there will be plenty more transport issues for the mayoral candidates to get their teeth into again come January.

May your journeys be merry and on time over the Christmas and New Year period.

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