Meet the stars

Matt Tay­lor and Sioux Hine will be answer­ing ques­tions in our web chat on 30 Sep­tem­ber. Matt and Sioux will be joined by direc­tor of cus­tomer oper­a­tions, Simon Sheldon-Wilson, regional divi­sional direc­tor Tim Har­bot and our national win­ter spe­cial­ist Dar­ren Clark, straight after the final episode, No Such Thing as an Acci­dent. The web chat will be hosted on our web­site and will last from 10pm to 11pm.

Traf­fic offi­cers, duty man­agers and team lead­ers from the High­ways Agency were fea­tured in episodes of The Motor­way: Life in the Fast Lane. Most of these staff are based in Birmingham.

You can read some “Day in the Life” fea­tures, and get more infor­ma­tion about High­ways Agency jobs and careers on our recruit­ment page.

Here, we speak to some of the stars of the show about their expe­ri­ence with the cam­era crew, and why they enjoy work­ing for the High­ways Agency.

Matthew Tay­lor, asset man­ager, Birmingham

Matt Taylor

Matt Tay­lor joined the High­ways Agency in 2004 as one of the first Regional Con­trol Cen­tre oper­a­tors in the West Mid­lands. In 2013, he moved into the Asset Man­ager role for Birmingham.

Matt was fea­tured in episode one of The Motor­way: Life in the Fast Lane, Weight of Traf­fic.

“I cover the M5, M6 and M42 around Birm­ing­ham,” Matt explained. “The role is very diverse – rang­ing from deal­ing with coun­cils devel­op­ing local plans, to pro­mot­ing major new high­way schemes, to deal­ing with flooded gar­dens as fea­tured in The Motorway.

“We were delighted to be able to help the cou­ple in the episode – and I’m pleased to say their gar­den is now fixed, and they’re very happy with it.”

Sioux Hine, team manager

In one of our favourite scenes from The Motorway:Life in the Fast Lane, team man­ager Sioux Hine is seen co-ordinating the Army to stop the M50 from flood­ing. The M50 was the only open road into south Wales at the time – and an emer­gency oper­a­tion was needed to fend off flooding.

Sioux, a mum of four (and a grandma to boot), leapt into action at the scene to ensure the road stayed open.

“I do vol­un­tary work for the fire ser­vice and other organ­i­sa­tions,” Sioux said. “And I’m a team man­ager with 13 on-road offi­cers, so I’m used to tak­ing charge in dif­fi­cult situations.”

Khalid Fazal, traf­fic officer

Khalid Fazal became a traf­fic offi­cer a decade ago, shortly after the ser­vice was set up. He said it was always a dis­tant dream to work on the M6.

“I went to school at Hodge­hill sec­ondary and I could see the M6 out my win­dow in his­tory class. I used to sit in my his­tory class look­ing out at the motor­way, and now here I am work­ing on it, every day. I was always des­tined to be on the other side of the fence.”

Khalid said the film­ing expe­ri­ence was inter­est­ing – and that he hopes the doc­u­men­tary will help the pub­lic under­stand more about the role of a traf­fic officer.

“I think the pub­lic don’t always under­stand what we do,” he said. “It’s a bit of a mix, but some peo­ple, even after ten years, see us as recov­ery oper­a­tors, some see us as being main­te­nance or repair guys. They don’t really under­stand the role.

“When the show goes out, I hope a lot of peo­ple will see what we really have to do. We deal with col­li­sions, debris in the road, dead ani­mals, vehi­cle break­downs… it’s more than just being out and a vis­i­ble presence.

“We’re active con­stantly, work­ing to keep the roads flow­ing. When the pro­gramme is shown, peo­ple will prob­a­bly under­stand our role a bit bet­ter. Hope­fully, from my per­spec­tive, that should be a really good thing from the film­ing: help­ing peo­ple under­stand our job better.”

Paul Lawrence, traf­fic officer

Paul Lawrence, affec­tion­ately known as Pit­bull by his col­leagues, started work as a traf­fic offi­cer ten years ago – shortly after los­ing his job at MG Rover at Long­bridge. Paul said he enjoys his job and that it was often a case of deal­ing with tricky sit­u­a­tions with humour. “We have a lot of ban­ter here, but our shift is known to like to get stuck in,” he said. “Some­times, you have to deal with dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions. I had a 20-year-old girl die in my lap, and she was eight months preg­nant. That was really hard to deal with.”

Paul was involved in a par­tic­u­larly hairy inci­dent dur­ing filming.

“We had a very close call,” Paul explained. “We’d set out an enclo­sure with cones and hi-vis signs, but a lorry just drove straight through them. It missed us by about four inches. It was a very close shave. Some­times you do won­der if you might get hit.”

James Hawkes, Oper­a­tions Man­ager, West Mid­lands Regional Con­trol Centre

James Hawkes has been the on-road oper­a­tions man­ager for Quin­ton Out­sta­tion since Feb­ru­ary 2014.

A grad­u­ate of Birm­ing­ham Uni­ver­sity with a degree in geog­ra­phy, James is a keen reader, film buff, gamer and arm­chair sports fan.

James has worked for the High­ways Agency for almost eight years, hav­ing joined in 2006 as a con­trol rooom operator.

“Since join­ing the High­ways Agency, I’ve worked my way up to ops man­ager via team man­ager, ser­vice deliv­ery man­ager for tech­nol­ogy, inci­dent and knowl­edge man­age­ment port­fo­lio man­ager and national con­trol room tech­nol­ogy co-ordinator.”

Steve Gar­bacz, traf­fic officer

Nina Young, Charg­ing and Enforce­ment Pol­icy Officer

Steve Gar­bacz has been a traf­fic offi­cer for the last five years. Orig­i­nally work­ing in the north east region, Steve moved to the Mid­lands in May 2013. “It’s inter­est­ing – we face the same kinds of issues here that we did in the north east,” Steve explained. “The real dif­fer­ence here is that every­thing is quite close together.” Steve enjoyed the expe­ri­ence of being fol­lowed by the film crew: “It was good, and we got on really well with the cam­era peo­ple,” he said. “One of the guys came over on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing espe­cially to take us for break­fast, which was nice.”Nina Young joined the High­ways Agency nearly nine years ago. She started as an oper­a­tor in the West Mid­lands regional con­trol room in 2006, work­ing to spot prob­lems and coor­di­nate the response from our base in Quin­ton. Nina is now charg­ing and enforce­ment pol­icy offi­cer for the Dart Charge scheme.“Working in our regional con­trol cen­tres gave me a great deal of expe­ri­ence and con­text around the vast range of work done by the High­ways Agency,” she said. “Work­ing there was by far the most inter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing role I have ever had.”

 

Stephen Bird, Regional Con­trol Cen­tre Team Manager

Phil Bof­fey, Project Resource Manager

Stephen has been work­ing in the West Mid­lands regional con­trol cen­tre for the past four-and-a-half years. A for­mer pro­fes­sional dri­ver, Stephen cov­ered more than 40,000 miles a year on our motor­ways, before mak­ing the switch to the High­ways Agency con­trol cen­tre. “I’m a keen dri­ver with a deep inter­est in my work envi­ron­ment,” Stephen said. “My old job required me to travel 40,000 miles a year on our motor­ways, so I have a good idea of how frus­trat­ing the road can be at times.”Stephen said he enjoyed being a key part of the team tasked with keep­ing traf­fic mov­ing on the M6.Phil spent 23 years in the Army before join­ing the High­ways Agency as a con­trol room oper­a­tor in 2007. He was made a team man­ager in 2008, before mov­ing on to ser­vice devel­op­ment man­ager in 2012. This job involved ensur­ing that new builds (such as the new smart motor­way mod­i­fi­ca­tions between junc­tion 5 and junc­tion 8 of the M6) could be brought into ser­vice with the min­i­mum amount of dis­rup­tion to the road net­work, and road users. Since film­ing for The Motor­way: Life in the Fast Lane, Phil has moved depart­ments and been pro­moted – he is now project resource man­ager in the Major Projects division.

 

Amanda Mush­ing, Team Manager

Neil Tay­lor, Ser­vice Deliv­ery Oper­a­tions Manager

A for­mer West Mid­lands police offi­cer and dri­ver in the Army, Amanda Mush­ing is now a team man­ager at our regional con­trol cen­tre. Amanda joined the High­ways Agency just over ten years ago, at the incep­tion of the traf­fic offi­cer ser­vice in April 2004. She started as an on-road traf­fic offi­cer, before being pro­moted to on-road team man­ager – a role which involved work­ing at all but one of our out­sta­tions across the West Mid­lands. Amanda trans­ferred to the national traf­fic oper­a­tions cen­tre in 2011, then moved back to the regional con­trol cen­tre as a team man­ager in the mid­dle of 2012.Neil Tay­lor is a duty oper­a­tions man­ager, and he joined the traf­fic man­age­ment depart­ment of the Agency in 2010. His role is to help man­age the regional con­trol cen­tre, based at Quin­ton, Birm­ing­ham. Neil was pre­vi­ously an on-road oper­a­tions man­ager, act­ing as the ‘head’ of the con­trol cen­tre and ensur­ing every­thing runs smoothly on a day-to-day basis. His role is now in ser­vice deliv­ery. Away from the regional con­trol cen­tre, Neil is a keen sports­man, and the sec­re­tary of a Der­byshire Pre­mier Divi­sion ama­teur cricket club. He is also chair of gov­er­nors at a local infants school.

 

Andrew Wood, National Con­sis­tency Manager

Mick Phoenix, Traf­fic Officer

Andy Wood is a seven-year vet­eran of the High­ways Agency traf­fic offi­cer ser­vice. He started out as a traf­fic offi­cer work­ing in the Mid­lands and has built up vast expe­ri­ence in a num­ber of posi­tions. He has been a team man­ager, a role which involves man­ag­ing a team of on road traf­fic offi­cers through their daily duties, and Andy has also been a lead coach in the con­trol room. Andy’s vast expe­ri­ence gives him real insight into the work­ings of the traf­fic offi­cer ser­vice. As a result, he is now the national con­sis­tency man­ager, and spe­cialises in recruitment.A for­mer Army man with 22 years of ser­vice in the Royal Corps of Trans­port, Mick Phoenix joined the High­ways Agency just over ten years ago. He is a long-serving traf­fic offi­cer who works in the Mid­lands – but he has a very inter­est­ing back­ground far from the asphalt-coated car­riage­ways of the M6. In a pre­vi­ous life, Mick worked in the Sul­tanate of Oman as a traf­fic safety offi­cer, where he faced very dif­fer­ent chal­lenges to those on the M6. Mick bal­ances his work as a traf­fic offi­cer with being a dad to three grown-up chil­dren, and a grand­dad to six.

 

Car­o­line Roberts, Traf­fic Officer

Robert Gre­gory, Regional Tech­nol­ogy Oper­a­tional Liaison

Car­o­line Roberts found love on the road while work­ing for the High­ways Agency. Car­o­line is a traf­fic offi­cer oper­at­ing in the East Mid­lands and has been with the High­ways Agency for eight years. When she started, Car­o­line had no idea how much she’d grow to love the motor­way. It even­tu­ally turned out that our strate­gic road net­work will always hold a spe­cial place in Caroline’s heart – she met her fiancé, Paul, on the M1, whilst he was work­ing for High­ways Agency con­trac­tor A1+. Car­o­line has a two-year-old son, Rhys.Dur­ing film­ing, Robert Gre­gory was in post as the con­trol room team man­ager, based at Quin­ton, Birm­ing­ham. Since then, Robert has started a new role as regional tech­nol­ogy oper­a­tion liai­son. Robert joined the High­ways Agency in June 2009, start­ing as an oper­a­tor, before becom­ing a team man­ager in 2011, with respon­si­bil­ity for man­ag­ing sev­eral teams within the con­trol room. “My role acts as a liai­son between the tech­nol­ogy main­tain­ers and groups within the Agency, and the con­trol rooms. I’m respon­si­ble for both the West Mid­lands and South West regional con­trol cen­tres,” he said.

 

Work­ing for the High­ways Agency

For more infor­ma­tion about what it’s like being at traf­fic offi­cer, watch our YouTube video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKBUmITvOic