Council reveals future plans for its Highways Service

16 February 2021

Following a full review and public consultation last year, Cheshire West and Chester Council has revealed future plans for the delivery of its Highways Service.

The Council maintains a road network of approximately 2,300 kilometres together with pavements, bridges, the City Walls in Chester, traffic lights, streetlights, trees, gullies, cycle routes and public rights of way.

In October 2012, the Council entered into a contract with Ringway Infrastructure Services Limited to carry out maintenance operations on the road network. This contract will expire after its full 10-year term in October 2022.

A public consultation exercise about the future of the Highway Services took place during July and August last year involving elected members, the general public, service providers, staff and other key stakeholders.

Councillor Karen Shore, the Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “We wanted to find out views on how our service should be delivered when our current highways contract ends in October 2022. All feedback was carefully considered and influenced our preferred service delivery model, which has now been brought to Cabinet.

"The preferred model involves using a Technical Partner, engaged via a procurement process, to carry out all large-scale schemes and specialist programmes such as surface treatments and resurfacing.

"However, a number of highway operations will be sourced in-house; this includes reactive/routine maintenance, gully/drainage cleansing, and winter services. This method of delivering our services will provide greater flexibility and control, improve communication channels for customers and directly address many of priority issues raised during the extensive consultation while securing valuable contributions from a Technical Partner.

"I am pleased Cabinet approved the proposal and I now look forward to realising the new service delivery model, securing the wide-ranging service quality improvements and benefits for the Borough.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our current provider, Ringway Infrastructure Services Limited, for their significant and continuing contributions to the delivery of our highway service since 2012."

The Technical Partner Term Maintenance Contract (Hybrid) model means the Council will be bringing most small-scale operations back in-house - potholes, gullies, out of hours services - from October 2022.  All large-scale schemes and programmes such as resurfacings, surface dressings, will still be carried out via a contract with the Technical Partner that is to be appointed following a procurement exercise.

It has also been agreed that all current Highways grass and hedge cutting, weed control and sweeping operations will be transferred to the Council's StreetCare Service ahead of the new model from 1 April 2021.

Part of the case for change in Highways Service delivery is the Council's Climate Emergency Declaration. The highway network is the Council's largest physical asset and infrastructure plays a big part in the climate change agenda. The future model presents the Council with a number of opportunities in achieving its corporate priority for Climate Emergency:
  • 'Right first time' repairs - will reduce operational mileage
  • Greening the fleet/plant when purchasing or hiring new equipment
  • Maximise recycle and reuse of materials 
  • Innovation in highway materials and technology
  • Sustainable management of drainage systems
  • Encouraging the use of other modes of transport - less vehicles on the roads will prolong the life of the network and other assets 
A simple but well-managed delivery model, with good systems and processes is essential to optimise roads and assets that inevitably deteriorate each year. The Highways Service is also currently experiencing high customer demand yet increasingly constrained government budgets.

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