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County Lib Dems Criticise Choice of Highway Contractors

Published on: 30 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 4 Oct, 2021

Surrey Lib Dems have questioned Surrey County Council’s process of selecting a new highways maintenance contractor which has resulted in the three final bids coming from companies all, say the Lib Dems, with a history of failing Surrey residents.

The council’s Cabinet met yesterday and agreed to award the contract to either Amey, Kier or Ringway. Initially, the contract will be for 10 years, but a possible extension could take it to 21 years with a total value of about £2.5 billion.

Will Forster, leader of Surrey Lib Dems said: “The Lib Dems and I think this is an appalling situation to be in and means that Surrey’s roads will be run by a company with a poor track record locally for at least the next decade.

“Kier is currently responsible for maintaining Surrey’s roads, which has resulted in the county being the pothole capital of the country. Ringway used to run the roads in the West of Surrey, their contractor ended in 2011 and they had to pay £250,000 in compensation to the county council. Finally, four of the 11 Surrey’s boroughs or districts are struggling with no or limited garden waste collection under Amey.

“The council should have given serious consideration to bringing the services in house, but it does seem that the Tories always favour external contracts regardless of the quality of service received.

“The council needs to reassure residents that the experience of past issues will not be repeated. People in Surrey deserve to cycle, drive and walk on good quality roads and pavements, yet at the moment our highway network is in poor condition.”

A SCC spokesman responded: “Surrey County Council invited submissions in October 2020 for its highways maintenance contract which is due for renewal in 2022. Following a robust procurement process, the successful organisation was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday (September 28).

“As is typical of contract awards of this kind, the decision will be subject to a standstill period. The successful contractor will be announced in October, with high-quality works, ‘right first time’ and good communication with residents amongst the key criteria for bidders.

“The chosen contractor will deliver our £200m investment in Surrey’s highways over the next five years which will see improvements to 350 miles of road and 180 miles of pavements.”

Cllr Fiona Davidson

County Cllr Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South East) said: “Residents’ experience of the current contractor, Kier, has been bad, in terms of quality, timeliness and cost.

“We’re assured by the SCC leadership that the new contract will remedy the inadequacies of the old contract, and there will be a relationship of partnership and collaboration between the county council and the successful bidder. We’ll see.

“I certainly hope the new contract leads to significantly improved outcomes all round. Sadly, even the best contract in the world can only be successful if the culture of the delivery organisation supports it. Culture and standards don’t change overnight, and our recent experience of Kier isn’t encouraging in this respect.”


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Responses to County Lib Dems Criticise Choice of Highway Contractors

  1. Keith Francis Reply

    October 4, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    After I contacted SCC about a pothole outside my neighbour’s drive (which he hadn’t bothered to report even though he had to take his vehicles over it at least six times a day), less than a week later Kier came along and filled it in, plus, two nearby developing potholes which weren’t on the schedule.

    • C Reeds Reply

      October 5, 2021 at 6:23 pm

      There are potholes along all of Guildford’s key arterial roads. There are areas of problematic road surface along the lengths of Epsom Road, Farnham Road, Portsmouth Road, Ladymead, Stoke Road, Park Way, and Boxgrove Road, as well as plenty of other key roads in our district within Surrey County Council.

      If only the rest of Guildford’s roads could be addressed with as much attention to detail and promptness as those surrounding Mr Francis’ home.

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