The changes will see the phased introduction of four new management areas which, for the first time, will be open to both public and private sector bidders.
Mr Norris said:
'These changes are part of the Highways Agency's national review of management arrangements for maintenance and small improvements on motorways and trunk roads. We believe that by introducing competition we can ensure that work continues to be carried out to the required standards and at a cost that represents good value for money for road users.
From 1 April 1996, the existing south and west London consultant agencies will be expanded to cover the Highways Agency roads currently managed by the London Boroughs of Bexley, Ealing, Greenwich, Hillingdon, Kingston, Richmond and Wandsworth.
New north and east London agencies will be introduced in 1997 or 1998.
Mr Norris explained:
'The gradual phasing in of the changes should allow the boroughs to adjust and respond to the new arrangements. Local authorities will be able to compete for the management of agencies from 1 April 1997.'
Currently 19 London Boroughs act as trunk road agents, namely:
Barking and Dagenham; Barnet; Bexley;Brent; Camden; Ealing; Enfield; Greenwich; Haringey; Havering; Hillingdon; Islington; Kingston; Newham; Redbridge; Richmond; Tower Hamlets; Wandsworth and Waltham Forest.
There are consultant agencies in west and south London, covering Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster (west area) and Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark (south area). They have operated since April 1991.
Frank Graham Consulting Engineers cover west London maintenance. Small improvements in west London are managed by Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick and Partners. Both maintenance and small improvements in south London are managed by Parkman International Consultancy.