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Increased investment for new highways contract will deliver an improved service across West Northants

Parking, roads and transport

01 June 2022

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has announced Kier as its preferred contractor to deliver a new highways service with increased investment this autumn.

Today’s announcement is the outcome of an 18-month competitive process to award a new maintenance contract as part of the £30m-a-year service, which includes maintaining local roads, footpaths, signage and drainage, repairing potholes and winter gritting.

The current highways maintenance contract, currently delivered Northamptonshire-wide by Kier and WSP under arrangements inherited from the previous county council was procured over a decade ago and since the formation of WNC has lacked the flexibility required to meet the changing priorities of the council and its community.

WNC’s new contract will deliver a brand new highways service with fresh priorities and requirements specifically tailored towards the needs of West Northamptonshire residents. Under the new contract with Kier the Council is increasing investment to the service by more than £1million per year, and will also have greater control, increasing its own resource to manage and monitor performance, which will include clear, strong goals for improving customer focus and providing value for money.

The new contractor has also set its commitment to working with the Council on its sustainability goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, as well as increasing social value to the service to benefit the wider West Northants community and economy, such as supporting local disadvantaged groups and working with local sub-contractors.

As the outcome of the process also saw North Northamptonshire Council appoint Kier as their preferred supplier, having the same contractor working on two separate neighbouring highways services will lead to some cost advantages for the two authorities, such as the ability to share some administrative functions and contract management roles.

The new contract will run for seven years, with the potential to extend to a maximum of 14 years based on performance and quality of the service.

Cllr Phil Larratt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways, Transport and Waste Services at West Northamptonshire Council, said: "We are pleased to be able to appoint Kier as preferred contractor for our new highways service from September. I look forward to working with them, delivering our agenda and on our priorities.

"It’s been over a decade since the previous countywide contract was awarded and we are starting afresh with new priorities and requirements specifically targeted to West Northamptonshire, that fully reflect the present-day needs of our communities. The condition of our roads, verges and signage is very important to our residents. It is important that our contractor is focused on the needs of our residents and delivers for them, dealing with their issues and concerns flexibly and positively, providing a high quality service.

"We already have a strong, established relationship with Kier which we will now build upon further and I am confident this new contract will result in better, quality highways services where our contractor takes a flexible and pragmatic approach, exercising common sense and care for the environment in what they do across West Northamptonshire.”

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, Leader of the Council said: “Mending potholes and maintaining our local roads really matters to our residents, and they have been telling us that this important service needs to improve. Whilst they accept the need to spend more, they need to feel certain that we’re getting the best value and quality for their money. That’s why we have procured a truly flexible contract that will focus on the priorities of our residents as we know these can change over time. Alongside the flexibility, unlike the previous contract we are setting challenging performance measures for the work that’s done, and a strong Contract Management Team who ensure the monitoring of this performance.

“We’ve also chosen a contractor that is leading the field in its commitment to supporting us in our work towards a more sustainable West Northants, whether it’s helping us reduce carbon emissions by 2030 or adding real social value to the services we provide for the benefit of our wider community, and I look forward to working closely with them in the years ahead."

WNC has worked closely with NNC on the process for procuring the new highways contracts, which started in November 2020 and has involved several selection stages to narrow down and shortlist prospective suppliers.

The decision for West Northamptonshire was made under delegated authority by the Council’s Executive Director Place, Economy and Environment and Executive Director Finance, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Environment, Transport, Highways and Waste Services, and the Portfolio Holder for Finance.

The new contract will start in September, 2022.

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