To receive and consider the final road safety audit and an update on the financing of the project
The Committee received and reviewed a report, set out in agenda pages 11 to 48, which gave details of the final road safety audit and financial position of the Market Place Highways Improvement Scheme.
Mark Cupit (Assistant Director Delivery and Infrastructure) and Chris Easton (Service Manager - Transport, Drainage and Compliance) attended the meeting to present the report and answer any Member questions.
The report gave details of the final road safety audit (RSA) which had allowed a six month ‘settling in’ period prior to the final audit’s completion, and identified no safety concerns with the final completed project. Following the disability engagement workshop held in November 2018, a risk assessment (undertaken by WSP - Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC’s) design consultant) had highlighted seventeen risk areas. Lessons had been learned relating to design issues and WBC now had an in-house design team which provided greater value and financial savings. The tactile studs met the appropriate standards, were identified as an issue within the RSA and different chemicals could be used to alter their colour and make them stand out from the paving surfaces and improve their usability. Officers were in the process of working through the list of issues highlighted by the risk assessment.
The report outlined that not all of the work carried out as part of the Market Place Highways Improvement Project was solely for this project. Other works such as highways maintenance and drainage upgrades were carried out in order to upgrade the existing systems, thereby saving time and money by not having to dig up the area again in the near future. WBC now had access to a more developed and precise ground radar investigation tool which would be used on all future projects.
Reports of accidents had fallen dramatically since the initial opening of the newly upgraded Market Place. Reports of accidents were now less common with the new surfacing than with the previous red brick surface, which could be slippery in wet conditions.
The report outlined that the original cost assessment for the project in September 2016 was £4.6m; this was reduced to £4.2m in October 2016 following discussions with the contractor about holding further risk and value engineering. In April 2017, discussions were had about those changes and further value engineering and transfer of greater project risk to the Council, following this the final budget was agreed at £3.8m with £400k contingency, totalling £4.2m. The report went on to add that £220k was overspent on the project, equating to an approximate 5% overspend total. This figure included costs for works undertaken for maintenance, asset renewal and repairs which were business as usual costs. A sum of up to approximately £40k could be expected to be returned to WBC following finalisation of financial transactions with utility companies.
During the ensuing discussions Members raised the following points and queries:
· How were the costs reduced from £4.6m to £4.2m in April 2017? Officer response - More risks were taken on by the Council and away from the contractor, including utility risks.
· Various project management issues occurred during this project, what was the reasoning behind these issues? Officer response – The Market Place scheme used externally procured project managers which did not always give the greatest level of continuity. In house project managers would be used going forward.
· A number of metal studs were missing in the Market Place, what would be done do address this? Officer response – All missing metal studs would be repaired and replaced and this issue would be monitored going forwards. Assurances were given that the studs would not be removable (by the public) and Officers would now actively investigate the underlying issue. The metal studs met guidance criteria and complied with all relevant standards.
· What was being done to monitor the traffic and speed restrictions within the Market Place? Officer response – Officers were looking at placing a camera on the town hall to assist with traffic monitoring. Traffic management measures were in place and there was good courtesy contact within the Market Place highway.
· When first completed, a number of accidents were reported online via social media, how could WBC be confident that accidents were not currently occurring as a result of the changes to the Market Place? Officer response – WBC had received no legal claims which suggested that there had been no significant trips or falls recently.
· How had disability groups been contacted throughout the improvement works, both at planning and delivery phases? Had these groups been contacted post completion for comment? Officer response – Relevant groups were invited to a workshop in November 2018. Now that the RSA and risk assessment documents were public, these would be available to these groups and others to allow for comments and suggestions.
· Would the provided disability and consultation list be kept up to date and made available for all future projects? Officer response – The list was a live document which would be managed by the Communications team. Members, Officers and the public were welcome to suggest other relevant organisations and groups to be added to this list. The list would be centrally held and made available for future projects and consultations.
· Did WBC have a dedicated access Officer? Who was responsible for access related issues for past and current projects? WBC did not currently have a dedicated access Officer, this service came under the responsibility of the safety auditors in conjunction with the project manager. Safety auditors were qualified to identify and resolve accessibility related issues, and externally procuring allowed for best practice every time.
1. Mark Cupit and Chris Easton be thanked for attending the meeting to answer Member questions;
2. the final Road Safety Audit related to the Market Place Improvement Project be noted;
3. the Financial update related to the Market Place Improvement Project be noted;
4. the Committee continue to monitor the Market Place and ensure that lessons have been learned;
5. the consultation and engagement list be continually reviewed and updated, with Members, Officers and members of the public invited to suggest further relevant groups and organisations to be added.