Labour councillors call for closer scrutiny of £210 million West Northamptonshire highways contract

Deputy leader points to ‘un-mended potholes and poor road surfaces’ on Kier’s watch

Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 7:45 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 8:47 am

Labour councillors are demanding a closer look at how West Northamptonshire awarded its new £30 million-a-year highways contract.

Kier landed two seven-year deals from West Northants and North Northamptonshire Council worth a total of £420 million to manage roads, footpaths, signage and drainage, repairing potholes and winter gritting across the county.

West Northamptonshire Labour group deputy leader, Councilor Bob Purser, warned many questions remain over the tender process, adding: "There are un-mended potholes, poor road surfaces and little progress has been made to improve cycleways and footpaths.

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Labour deputy leader Bob Purser says questions remain over the tender process leading up to Kier landing West Northamptonshire's new £210 million highways contract

“There is cross-party concern that the administration has decided to award this contract to Kier, increasing the financial reward for fulfilling a service for which there is widespread dissatisfaction.”

Infrastructure services giant Kier held the Northamptonshire County Council highways contract in partnership with engineering specialists WSP since 2008.

Cabinet members Malcolm Longley and Phil Larratt signed off Kier’s new deal with the Tory-run West Northamptonshire unitary authority under delegated powers following an 18-month “competitive tender process.”

Council leader Jonathan Nunn promised a new and improved highways service with increased investment.

He added: “We’ve chosen a contractor that is leading the field in its commitment to supporting us in our work towards a more sustainable West Northants.”

But opposition councillors expressed “serious concern” that the deal was done without going before the council’s scrutiny committees.

Cllr Purser, who represents Abington & Phippsville ward, added: “Many questions remain about the tender process and whether it will meet the needs of West Northamptonshire residents and provide value for money as well as meeting the council’s climate and anti-poverty commitments.

"There also has to be a commitment to growing our local economy and ensuring jobs in West Northants go to West Northants residents.

“The joint contract with North Northamptonshire seems like a sensible and prudent choice.

"But we need to be clear it meets both councils’ corporate plans, as North Northamptonshire has a different set of strategies and objectives to West Northamptonshire.

“A contract of this importance should not bargain away our iron-clad commitments to our residents for the sake of a two-for-one offer.

“We will therefore be asking for this decision to be called in to be examined and closely assess how and why the decision was taken.”

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