Stat of the day: £1bn

The amount of public money that could be 'wasted' by widening two stretches of the M25, according to MPs.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
If you've spent any time (most likely stationary) on the M25 in the last, oooh, 35 years, you'll know it's badly in need of an extra lane or two. But not according to MPs: in fact the Highways Agency has been under fire from them for its handling of plans to cut congestion by widening two stretches of the motorway.

According to Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who leads the Public Accounts Committee, the agency 'hadn’t considered' the cheaper alternative of allowing motorists to use the hard shoulder during rush-hour. Apparently, the deal was based on 'flawed and biased estimations'. Ouch.

The £3.4bn project has suffered nine years of delays so far, pushing up costs even higher. The credit crisis added an extra £660m, while the committee noted that ‘the advisers upon whom the agency spent an excessive £80m’ also benefitted from the drawn-out completion of the contract.

Highways Agency chief exec Graham Dalton says they’ve taken note of the conclusions and will act on the recommendations – although after nine years of delays, some may question whether this is a bit late. Then again, nine years sounds about right for a delay on the M25...

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