A MULTI-MILLION pound contract to maintain Wiltshire’s roads and streets is working well on big jobs but not on grass-cutting and potholes, a report has found.
A special task group of Wiltshire councillors has reported back after conducting a “rapid scrutiny exercise”. This followed complaints about the performance of Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP), who took on the contract last year.
Cllr Jeff Osborn, an Independent member who pushed for the inquiry and was one of the six councillors conducting it, said the big jobs were going well but in minor works there was room for improvement.
He said: “This includes grass and hedge cutting, small potholes etc. These are matters that the public is very much concerned with.”
He said it was also clear that the public were not being told what happened after they raised an issue and that must improve. The task group report says better and clearer reporting is needed about BBLP’s contract work and its progress.
It says problems began when at the outset of the contract, six middle managers chose not to transfer to Balfour Beatty Living Places. A backlog of grass-cutting jobs quickly built up and new staff lacked local knowledge.
However, better arrangements have now been put in place to keep councillors up to date on works in their respective patches. Computer technology systems will also improve by the end of the year, the report says.
It adds that council officers’ expectations that “local highways and street scene and IT” would be problem areas, had been borne out by events.
In conclusion, the task group says that work on seven of the eight main areas of the contract is satisfactory, but it will meet again in March to monitor progress.