Memorandum produced by the National Audit Office, in response to a request by Andrew Selous MP, on the A5 Dunstable Queue Relocation Scheme
1 Jan 2006
“The government’s target to reverse the long-term decline in bus use and achieve growth both nationally and in all regions is challenging. London is leading the way. If growth in all the regions is to be achieved, strong leadership from the Department of Transport will be essential, to build on its policies and encourage local transport authorities and operators to bring about the concerted action needed”.
Audit Commission Chairman, James Strachan said:
“Buses are an important lifeline for many people and help reduce congestion in towns and cities. This has been recognised by targets to increase bus use. Our report analysed whether the best means have been adopted to achieve these targets. Success depends on many organisations working efficiently together. However what stands out is that where there is strong local leadership to increase the use of buses, as in London, the difference is real and the public notices it.”
Additional key findings:
Additional key recommendations:
As owner of the national target, the Department of Transport should:
At the same time, local transport authorities should:
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“The seeds of Connex South Eastern’s difficulties were sown when the train operating company won its franchise with an over-ambitious bid. It indeed subsequently proved to be undeliverable. The Strategic Rail Authority lost confidence in CSE and took the difficult and finely balanced decision to terminate the franchise. The SRA went on to demonstrate that the successful termination of a train operating company’s franchise is feasible, and that taxpayers’ and passengers’ interests can be protected, through careful management of the attendant risks.
“This case highlights lessons to be learned, however, in how franchises are awarded and managed, which the Department for Transport must keep in view as it takes forward the responsibilities it has recently inherited from the Strategic Rail Authority.”
“Modern construction methods can produce important benefits for housing authorities and developers, not the least of which is the reduced emphasis on on-site activity. This is particularly important in a time of increasing demands on an already stretched labour force. As with any new way of doing things there are risks, but these can be mitigated through good project planning and management.”
Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper said:
“We must ensure that we build the new homes that the next generation can afford. This report shows that it is possible to build faster and cheaper using modern methods of construction whilst keeping the same high quality as traditional methods. We said it should be possible to build a high quality house for less than £60,000. Now the NAO has shown that is right.”
Jon Rouse, Chief Executive of the Housing Corporation, said:
“For the last five years the Corporation has been at the vanguard of encouraging innovation and modern methods in order that greater numbers of much needed good quality homes may be delivered more efficiently. The results of this study clearly show that modern methods have a distinct and continuing role to play in the delivery of our £1.6 billion a year programme.”
This report is supported by more detailed material available on an accompanying CD-ROM providing a firm basis for further improvements in using modern methods of construction. The background material includes a set of sample project plans, showing how plans need to be tailored to gain maximum benefit from modern methods of construction. Detailed cost figures are also available, outlining how we calculated costs and how cost breakdown differs across construction methods. Also included are scenario papers examining cost variations for other development types, and papers detailing the whole life cost and durability of a sample development.
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While most of Britain’s largest stations provide excellent facilities, many other stations do not. The government, the industry and other interested parties must work together in a more concerted fashion to tackle the financial and other barriers to improvement so that more of our stations provide the facilities and services that rail passengers deserve.
“Departments and agencies have had a reputation for delivering construction projects that were late or over budget and designing buildings that were not cost effective to operate. There has, however, been a considerable improvement in performance since my last report on the subject in 2001 and one of the significant contributory factors to this progress has been the work of the OGC in promulgating best construction practice, providing support to departments, and applying the Gateway Review scrutiny process to construction projects. Departments cannot, however, be complacent. There remains scope for further improvement and my report makes recommendations and highlights good practice that will enable departments to achieve better performance and identifies how the OGC can support them through its advisory and support activities to deliver maximum benefit in improving construction capability and performance across the wider public sector. Even if only 20 per cent of these improvements are practicable this would still release some £500 million to be reinvested in frontline public services or higher quality built assets to deliver improved public services.”
“In difficult circumstances following the failure of the first competition, English Partnerships and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have worked hard to get a deal. There are risks still to be managed but local residents, and indeed the taxpayer, stand to benefit from it.”