Plymouth City Council has signed a new ten-year contract with Amey who will now provide the groundwork needed to keep the city’s traffic running smoothly.
The £150 million contract is part of the Council’s plans to radically overhaul the existing highways service with the aim of making a more cost effective, customer friendly, efficient and performance driven service.
By implementing the new way of working the Council has predicted savings of £6.2 million, with a further potential saving of £5.6 million if planned best practice construction principles are successful.
The new agreement has been signed by both the Council and Amey after it was agreed by Cabinet in August following a rigorous contract bid.
Mel Ewell, chief executive of Amey said: “Road networks can have an immense and very positive impact on a city and its wider community. However, for this to happen, our experience shows that regular, two-way engagement with the local community is crucial. As such, this would be an important element of the service Amey will provide to Plymouth.
"That this need for a collaborative and holistic approach is fully recognised by Plymouth City Council means that this is a contract Amey is particularly pleased to have been awarded."
Amey will carry out the design and maintenance work on the city’s roads on behalf of the Council, who will take a more strategic role. Day-to-day responsibility for delivery of the highways design, maintenance and operational functions for the city, including urban traffic control and highway drainage will be taken over by Amey. This includes tasks like filling in potholes, managing temporary traffic lights when road works are taking place and designing new schemes.
The new arrangements include a single point of contact for customer comments and complaints to ensure that all customer views are heard and acted upon.
To help create a more responsive service, Amey also plans to introduce a new ‘Watchman’, who will act as the eyes and ears of a community. This will see the city divided into areas, each with a dedicated local area highways team, whose role it will be to continually interact with members of the public. They will go along to local area committee meetings and carry out customer satisfaction surveys to make sure public views are at the heart of the new service.
Chris Sane, Assistant Director of Development, said: “The deal is for an initial period of seven years, starting from December, with the possibility of a three-year extension if performance targets are met. We are having an initial three-month handover to tackle start-up issues like installing new computer systems and informing the public of the changes. 96 existing Council employees will then transfer to Amey on 1 December.”
The Council hopes that this new arrangement will increase productivity, reduce accidents and defects, improve customer satisfaction and reduce capital cost and construction time.
Councillor Kevin Wigens, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “The Council is committed to ensuring Plymouth residents receive the highest quality and most efficient and customer focused services possible and we are using new innovative ways to get the job done.
“A big part of this change is giving customers far more of a say about how the streets of Plymouth are run. We want a service that responds quickly and efficiently to customer needs.”
This way of working with Amey has already been tried and tested by other councils around the country including Bedfordshire County Council, where it was found to be extremely effective.
The new Amey highways team will be based alongside the Council’s existing transport teams in the Civic Centre for the first four years of the contract to help make the change to the service as smooth as possible.
The Council will ultimately still be responsible for highways in the city and will continue to provide other transport services including transport strategy, highways development consents, road safety, public transport, development projects and on/off street parking.
Amey was selected as the preferred supplier after a strict tendering process was carried out.