I HAVE to confess I have never heard of Transport Focus but a quick visit to its website informed me it is an ‘independent watchdog for transport users’.

I mention this as a survey conducted by Transport Focus was brought to my attention this week.

The pressure group surveyed 11,600 customers for their opinion on subjects such as cleanliness, food and drink range, friendliness of staff and value for money at 111 motorway service areas in England between February and April.

Now I am a regular motorway user and I do like a good service station but I have to confess I have never been to the one that came out ahead in the survey, Norton Canes on the M6 Toll in Staffordshire, which topped the ranking for the second year running with a 99 per cent satisfaction rating.

My usual motorway route takes me along the M6 and M5 to the south west and anyone who regularly uses that route will know there is only one place you should even consider – Gloucester Services.

The only downside for me is that it’s not quite half way on my journey to Cornwall which means the stop comes a little early on the way down and a little late on the way home but they are small sacrifices I am prepared to make.

I mean, where else would you find a motorway service station with a farm shop?

And if you are ever considering stopping there for a quick bite to eat, I can heartily recommend the sausage rolls. They may be a little expensive but they are sensational, easily the best I have ever had.

I am such a fan of Gloucester Services, I was a little disappointed to see they hadn’t topped the poll. That was until I took a closer look at the figures and saw that Gloucester southbound also got a 99 per cent satisfaction rating while its northbound sibling had 98 per cent.

Anyway, having got the full list of results, I thought I’d have a look at how our ‘local’ services fared. Keep in mind that if there is a northbound and southbound site, they are judged separately.

The best performing was Sandbach southbound (94 per cent), but somewhat puzzlingly, over the road, Sandbach northbound performed much worse on a mere 83 per cent.

Knutsford southbound did ok on 93 per cent but the northbound site struggled along on 86 per cent.

But of course, if we are talking about truly local motorway service stations, we have one one our own patch at Burtonwood.

Older drivers will remember a time before junction eight on the M62 and Burtonwood had sites on both sides of the motorway.

In 2008 the westbound services were boarded up and abandoned but westbound traffic can access the eastbound services via the junction eight roundabout (entrance) and the old emergency access road (exit back to junction eight). This set up was first suggested by Welcome Break in 2000 when the Highways Agency built the new junction but it didn’t happen until eight years later.

An interesting fact: When it first opened, the westbound side would close during winter with pedestrians being sent through a subway under the road.

According to the website Motorway Services Online: “From day one its trade was described as ‘disappointing’. It suffered a decline in quality like any service station but the disappointing custom meant improvements didn’t follow. After the eastbound services became the only surviving side, it was thoroughly refurbished and its condition has been considerably better.”

Well maybe. According to the Transport Focus, Burtonwood is the second worst motorway service station in the country with a satisfaction rating on 73 per cent. Yes, it’s that bad.

But I would be interested to hear if anyone has been there recently. If you have, let me know what you thought of it.