Highways team recovering from Beast from the East

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Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 12:59pm

By Andrew Morris - Local Democracy Reporter

Budget pressures and the ‘Beast from the East’ storm hampered the first 18 months of a highways contract, it has been claimed.

Shropshire Council said its first year and a half with highways contractor Kier had been tough, but that services had started improving.

Weather conditions caused “significant pressure” on the system, but performance was now almost on par with what the council expects.

The council’s Place Overview Committee is meeting to discuss the contract tomorrow, with officers saying it had overcome several issues already.

Steve Brown, interim assistant director of infrastructure and communities, said: “The first year of the contract was hampered by issues such as weather conditions, mobilisation, budget reductions and this pressurised the service.

“This has now been addressed, performance has begun to increase, improvements are demonstrating themselves and there are a number of issues still to resolve.

“Issues are either being addressed or identified and planned for improvement.

“It is recognised that service delivery issues still need to improve, there is a commitment from Kier and Shropshire Council that these will be evident and sustained.”

The contract, which covers the county’s 5,100km (3,169 miles) of road, is worth £21 million a year.

He added: “The contract commenced on April 1 with award to Kier Highways to deliver the service on behalf of Shropshire Council.

“The contract is for seven years with a possible extension period of three individual years, thus a potential of a 10-year contract which is subject to cabinet approval.

“Early spring 2018 was extremely challenging. The ‘Beast from the East’ caused major disruption, routine works were affected, and a backlog of work was generated due to the inability to undertake inspections and routine maintenance during the period of the weather event.

“The backlog of work created significant pressure, with a high number of defects identified and ordered, which pressurised the system of works over the period.

“At the same time that the new contract was mobilised there was also a reduction in capital budget.

“Committee are assured that the backlog of work has now been completed and reactive works are now within acceptable limits. (i.e. eight days’ worth of work).

“The performance of Kier to the agreed performance indicators show the level of delivery achieved.

“A mean outturn rate of 93.46 per cent was achieved, an agreed target of 95 per cent performance outcome is required with the context previously described.”

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