To consider a report on progress relating to initiatives to improve customer service relating to road repairs across the Borough.
The Committee considered a report, Agenda pages 11 to 14, which provided an update on highways maintenance activities delivered through the Highways Alliance made up of the Council, WSP and Balfour Beatty. Councillor Malcolm Richards (Executive Member for Highways and Transport) and Alex Deans (Interim Head of Highways and Transport) attended the meeting to answer Member questions.
The report stated that highways maintenance issues had been considered previously by the Committee at its meeting on 23 November 2015, when Members had requested a follow-up report in the summer of 2016.
The report highlighted changes in key personnel which had provided an impetus for improvements in service delivery and the adoption of best practice. These improvements would be aligned with the 21st Century Council change programme and the re-letting of the current highways and transport contracts over the next few years.
The report gave details of the way maintenance works were carried out and quality checked. Over the past year 85% of works checked met the required standard, with any failures being remedied by Balfour Beatty at no cost to the Council. Residents were encouraged to report general highway maintenance defects online via the Council’s website while Members were encouraged to use the dedicated email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Members raised the following points and questions:
· What criteria were used to determine whether work should be carried out on a specific road? It was confirmed that the Council’s Highways Maintenance Policy set out criteria which were used to assess the level and timing of works. The Government was due to publish new guidelines later in 2016 which would enable more local input decisions about the criteria for intervention. Members requested further information on the criteria and definitions used.
· Examples were given of roads being marked up for work with no follow-up action taking place. It was confirmed that if roads were marked up the work should be done and that failure to carry out works was probably due to a system error. Members were asked to report any such instances.
· Members gave details of situations where better co-ordination between different sections of the Highways team would have resulted in more effective service delivery and better customer service. It was confirmed that one of the key aims of the 21st Century Council programme was a reduction in departmental and service silos resulting in more joined up service delivery.
· In relation to the checking of work carried out by Balfour Beatty, what measures were being introduced to improve the current pass rate of 85%? It was confirmed that discussions were ongoing with both WSP (design) and Balfour Beatty (delivery) to improve service quality and customer service.
· The specific example of recent works on the footpath in Shute End was discussed. It was felt that the work was not carried out to a high standard. It was confirmed that discussions were ongoing with the contractor about the quality of work on this project.
· The introduction of cycle lanes on the Reading Road was discussed. Members expressed concerns about the quality of work and the phasing of the different sections. It was confirmed that the timing of the next phases of work would be discussed with the contractor.
· Members noted that in recent years they had been asked to provide a list of priority works in their Wards for consideration by the Executive Member. Councillor Richards confirmed that he was developing a list of priorities and Members should contact him with any local issues.
1) Councillor Richards and Alex Deans be thanked for attending the meeting;
2) further information on issues raised by the Committee be circulated to Members.