UCATT says minor incident caused major delays


Fears that the new North West highways management contract will increase costs and traffic delays, are already proving to be correct, UCATT has learned.

The new contract for area 10 which covers the M60/M62 area, affecting Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire, was transferred to Balfour Beatty/Mott McDonald on November 4th.

UCATT had already raised concerns about the proposed contract, prior to the transfer, due to the removal of the highly successful Incident Support Units. It is now becoming apparent the new contract is focussed on what the contractor won’t do, rather than what they will do.

On November 14th a fuel spillage occurred on the M60 near the Trafford Centre, resulting in two lanes of the motorway being closed. The incident team arrived at the spillage, however due to the new contract and the new vehicles they have been supplied with, they were not able to deal with the spillage. Previously, the ISU units were equipped with bags of granules, which were used to soak up the fuel spill and the lanes would have reopened after three hours.

Due to the lack of facilities and the new style AMOR contract not requiring the clean-up of fuel spills, the two lanes were closed for 24 hours and could not be re-opened until emergency resurfacing work had occurred.

Jimmy Woods, Acting Regional Secretary of UCATT’s North West Region, said: “This is a deeply disturbing development. This minor incident, which would have been quickly dealt with before, has caused major delays and additional expense. Ultimately the taxpayer will have to pay for these additional costs.”

“There were long delays caused by the closure of the two lanes of the motorway. The Highways Agency estimates that for every hour of motorway delays, British business loses £1 million.

“Due to the delay in cleaning up the spillage, the additional costs will be passed on to the insurer of the vehicle that was responsible for the spillage. If this was repeated across the country, it would increase everyone’s insurance premiums.

“These cuts will end up costing the taxpayer and motorists more money. The contractor and the Highways Agency need to realise that this contract will not keep the motorway network in the North West moving. They need to sit down and devise a contract which can properly function.”

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