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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 17 December 2007

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Help for drivers in new leaflet

THE Highways Agency's latest quarterly leaflet to help drivers plan their journeys across the region hits the road this week.  The leaflet includes information about roadworks and improvements on motorways and major A roads across the North West.  This quarter's leaflet also includes useful safety tips about driving in severe weather such as the need to keep an eye on changing weather before and during a journey and carrying a winter weather kit in the car.

The leaflet gives full details for work running between December and February and beyond, including lane and carriageway closure times, diversions and any speed restrictions. Reasons for the works as well as expected completion dates are also given. Estimates of likely delays are also provided.

The leaflet also includes news about one of the latest Highways Agency information innovations to give drivers the latest traffic information during their journeys - new junction-to-junction travel and delay time estimates on electronic message signs. There is also information about Traffic Radio, the new internet and DAB radio station enabling drivers to get regularly updated traffic information without waiting for traffic alerts.

Work in Lancashire on improving safety for drivers on the M6 and M55 and improvements to the M6 Junction with the A683 are highlighted as likely to cause the worse delays for drivers but both schemes are due to be completed early in the New Year.

Other ongoing schemes across the region featured in the leaflet include:

* The improved safety fencing and lighting at the busy M6/M56 interchange at Lymm in Cheshire.

* M6 extension work on the A74 in Cumbria

* Junction improvements to the M62 and M57 interchange in Merseyside

* Bridge repairs near Junction 3 of the M56 in Greater Manchester.

A number of new schemes starting during the next 3 months include a short resurfacing scheme on the A65 east of the M6 near Kendal in Cumbria in January, resurfacing work on the M6 Junction 31a slip road near Preston in February and drainage replacement at the end of the M55 near Blackpool.

David Grunwell, Highways Agency Network Performance Manager for the North West said:- "The Highways Agency is committed to a rolling programme of repairs and improvements to the motorway and trunk road network to help give drivers safer, more reliable journeys and improve the environmental impact of our roads.  But we are also committed to ensuring that our customers get better information about the work we are doing so they can make informed journey choices.

Our engineers and contractors work very hard to plan work to minimise the impact of roadworks on people's journeys but some delays and diversions at times are inevitable so this leaflet is one way we can assist drivers by letting them know exactly when and where our major schemes are"
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The North West leaflet is 1 of 6 covering the whole of England. Anyone wishing to be added to the regular mailing list for the North West or other regional leaflets can contact the Highways Agency Information Line (HAIL) on 08457 50 40 30.

Command and control’ approach to work hinders productivity in the North West

FIGURES published recently show that performance levels in workplaces across the North West are suffering as overbearing and dogmatic management practices top the list of management styles. The Quality of Working Life report also found a high rate of sickness and absence levels in organisations exhibitingnegativemanagement styles.

The report, published by the Chartered Management Institute and Simplyhealth, assessed the impact of differing managerial styles on motivation, health and productivity. Key findings include:

Tight reins:- the most widely experienced management styles in organisations across the North West are bureaucratic (39%), reactive (34%) and authoritarian (28%). Worryingly, all 3 have become increasingly common; the top 2 have increased by 6% since 2004, with authoritarian leadership also rising 5%

Index linked:- the research shows empowering managerial styles are most associated with growing businesses. 37% of organisations performing well are cited as havingaccessiblemanagement teams, whereas 56% of declining companies exhibit bureaucracy and 25% create a secretiveenvironment

Sicknote culture:- only 1 in 10 respondents said absence increased in organisations with innovative and trustingcultures. This was in contrast to 45% suggesting sickness rates have gone up where employers weresuspicious.

Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs, at the Chartered Management Institute, says:- “The effect of management styles on performance can be marked and has a direct bearing on the levels of health, motivation and commitment linking employers and staff. Of course, improving the sense of wellbeing, determination and productivity, is no easy task but one that cannot be ignored. Left alone, it will only serve to reduce morale and lower the quality of working life.”

The findings show that the majority in the North West (72%) are motivated by a sense of achievement from reaching organisational goals. However, it is clear from the research that management style also has a dramatic impact on job satisfaction. For example, the presence of an authoritarian approach depresses enjoyment of work by 27 points, from 71 to 44%. Confidence in senior management teams also declines from 60 to 27%, where the dominant style is bureaucratic.

Des Benjamin, chief executive of Simplyhealth, says:- “There is increasing pressure to improve competitiveness and efficiency, but this doesn’t have to be about reducing costs. At Simplyhealth we have focused on creating the right environment and the right management behaviours. The result, compared to other organisations surveyed, is that our prevalent management styles are ranked as accessible, empowering and trusting and we’ve been able to cope with more change, with less detrimental effect on our health. Hence you can improve competitiveness and enhance performance by creating a healthy environment rather than reacting to an unhealthy one”.

The report was developed by Professor Les Worrall (University of Wolverhampton Business School) and Professor Cary Cooper (Lancaster University Business School). It is the 6th in a series of reports exploring the quality of working life in the UK. Commenting on the findings, Professor Cooper says:- “Against a backdrop of constant change, the relationship between good management practice and the reality of the workplace is intriguing. In an environment dominated by the need to retain the best talent, it is also extremely disappointing to see negative styles prevail in the UK.”

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