Highways Focus – Keep on moving
The maintenance and upkeep of highways in Leicestershire is an important aspect of the work delivered by Leicestershire County Council. From potholes to signage, the council’s highways team is responsible for over 2,500 miles of road and the accompanying infrastructure.
Ensuring the extensive road network runs smoothly is no mean feat and requires a large degree of coordination and flexibility. Minor repairs require quick solutions to make sure the impact on the travelling public is minimal.
As such, the highways department at Leicestershire County Council recently entered into a framework agreement with a small group of contractors to provide highway works top up services at peak demand times, whilst focusing on delivering best value for the tax payer. To find out more, Premier Construction recently sat down with Chris Green, Leicestershire County Council Highways Team Manager for Commercial and Business Support:
Tell us a bit more about how the framework agreement works?
“This is a framework contract of a number of suppliers that will support highways delivery at Leicestershire County Council in doing its minor repair work on the highways network. We have peaks and troughs in our workload and when we’re at a peak and need additional resources, we go to the framework contract to get the supply chain to support us in delivering highway repairs. This helps us to manage our service delivery with a limited budget.”
What types of works are provided by the contractors?
“The work could be pothole repairs, minor patching works, or drainage repairs. We’ve had people repairing non-illuminated signs, putting in dropped kerbs for customers and repairing highway defects.
“The framework contract has helped us meet our response times for repairing defects on the highway. It has also helped us meet our statutory duties for actually maintaining the highway network. The contract started on the 3rd January 2017 for two years and there are extensions based on good performance and value for money for a possible two years after that in one year increments.”
How often is the framework agreement called upon?
“The contract very much works on a demand led basis. It’s very difficult to plan maintenance work and we tend to put our resources in what we think are the troughs of our workload so we can run quite efficiently and don’t have anyone standing. Then when we get additional work come in, we are able to work with our supply chain partners to top up our own resource and deliver the service. As soon as there is an influx of work and there is a danger we can’t meet our response times or meet the needs of the highway network, we bring in the supply chain partners from the contract to work alongside us.”
Is this something that could be used by more authorities around the UK?
“It’s interesting because I don’t think a lot of highway authorities still have an in-house workforce, many of them have externalised completely. We still have an in-house workforce which is quite nice. This is also sort of a mixed economy in that you’ve got the benefits of external top up contracts so when you need them you can call on them. It gives us flexibility and helps us stay efficient so we can keep our resources at the right level. Bringing in additional resources when we need them means we don’t have any additional waste.”
How successful has the framework agreement worked so far?
“What’s really helped us is being able to achieve those quick response times for road users and being able to meet our statutory obligations for maintaining the highway. For motorists it means that they get a quick and efficient service from Leicestershire County Council. They can see repairs on the network being carried out as quickly as possible.”