Split councils' £420 million Northamptonshire Highways deals go back to same contractor for the next seven years
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The infrastructure services giant’s deals with two new local councils are worth a whopping £210 million EACH.
Kier held the Northamptonshire County Council highways contract since 2008 in partnership with engineering specialists WSP and the new £30 million-a-year agreements have clauses allowing them to be extended by a further seven years, to 2036.
But statements from both West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire unitary authorities, which took over from the defunct county council during last year’s local government split, insisted the company emerged as preferred bidders in both areas following “a competitive tender process.”
They added that having the same contractor will lead to “some cost advantages for the two authorities” such as the ability to share some administrative functions and contract management roles.
A West Northamptonshire Council statement added: “Under the new contract with Kier the council is increasing investment to the service by more than £1 million 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.”
Councillor Phil Larratt, the council’s cabinet member for transport and highways, said: “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.
“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.”
In North Northamptonshire, Kier was chosen ahead of three other bidders.
Councillor Graham Lawman, executive member for highways, said: “This whole procurement process started with a blank slate and resulted in four bidders competing to win the contract.
“Kier successfully won the procurement exercise by submitting a bid that offered the best value for money and highest quality highways service for the people of North Northants.
“The new contract is very much tailored towards meeting the challenges that we are currently facing and those over the coming years and we are confident that all the ingredients are in place for the delivery of the service.
“Having the right highways infrastructure is the cornerstone for so many of our wider services and is pivotal in helping make the area a great place in which to live and work.”