Agenda item


Purpose of report: Performance Management


To provide Committee Members with an overview of key achievements and challenges of the last 12 months of the May Gurney/Kier Highways maintenance contract.




Mark Borland, Projects and Contracts Group Manager, Highways

Jim Harker, May Gurney


Key points raised during the discussion:


1.    The Project and Contracts Group Manager explained that the May Gurney contract covered five main activities – safety, planned maintenance, network improvements, minor works and winter service. 


2.    The contract was delivering on all potholes being repaired, however last year they were unable to reach the 98% target for Medium Risk repairs within 28 days. This lead to overall target performance of 96% for safety repairs.


3.    May Gurney had increased the number of gangs operating by 14, and this increase was covered within the contract. This was in response to a third successive bad winter and increasing number of potholes to repair.


4.    High Risk repairs previously needed to be completed within 24 hours though it was felt that this was creating a negative public image as neighbouring potholes were being left. The time period had now been extended to five working days, one week, to allow multiple potholes to be repaired at the same time with larger machinery, however it was also noted that there was still a need to educate the public as to why certain potholes would be repaired ahead of others.


5.    5% of all repairs were audited which ensures a high standard – this was in addition to before and after photographs of the potholes, while a new PDA device was to be developed by Kier which would assist in reporting.


6.    Communication with the public had been as issue though a new website was in development which was hoped to be live by the next financial year. Members were invited to be part of a RIE to assist in the development of this webpage. It was hoped this website would encourage residents to report directly to Surrey County Council and not through websites such as Fix My Street. Members additionally suggested that instead of saying repairs would be completed within five working days the public would respond better to the terminology of ‘a week’.


7.    A £5 million additional budget, which was approved by Cabinet, has assisted in ensuring the potholes are being repaired as the figures are higher than anticipated. Members were surprised that the number of potholes has been larger than anticipated. It was explained that May Gurney had tendered for one bad winter though there had now been two. There had also been a backlog of repairs to be completed from the previous contractor which was higher than expected. An action plan was being drawn up which would assist in getting the numbers down to a normal level, though the success of this plan was dependent on whether there was a bad winter.


8.    The Committee discussed repairing potholes below the 40mm depth, though it was stated that these would not be repaired as the whole road may need to be resurfaced. This was in keeping with the benefits of Project Horizon, which sought to move from reactive to proactive road maintenance.


9.    Members queried the decision to not use over-banding when repairing potholes, though officers explained they had received technical evidence that vertical banding is sufficient for most potholes.


10.  Contractors ensured temporary repairs were returned to within 28 days as all pothole repairs were time stamped and an automatic report would be created once the 28 day period had passed. It was felt that the PDA devices would ensure this was more successful along with the extension from 24 hours to five working days, one week, to complete repairs.


11.  Unison’s recent protests against Kier’s blacklisting of contractors was a concern to the Committee, though they were assured that the protests were in regards to Kiers construction sector and not the Surrey highways contract. Furthermore it was confirmed that Kier was in communication with Unison over the issue.


12.  Members raised concerns regarding the depth of potholes near kerbs as 40mm is dangerous for cyclists. The Committee were informed that if it is a separate cycle path the depth must be 20mm for repairs to take place, however on normal carriageways the minimum depth for repairs to take place would remain 40mm, otherwise a policy change would need to occur. The viability of this taking place was limited, as it would require a significant amount of additional funding.


13.  Members were concerned by the number of projects which were aborted, however it was felt by officers that the new PDAs would assist in lowering this number as the inspectors would be required to talk to traffic management teams and work in collaboration.


14.  The impact of utility companies street works on the condition of the highway was discussed, as highways were often not properly reinstated. Officers were keen to improve record keeping so they are able to go back to the company if repairs were required within two years of utility works. To this end a number of additional staff would be employed to assist with the reporting and monitoring of utility company street works.


15.  Members raised concerns over kerb stones in the road and the speed at which these would be fixed. It was stated that if a large concrete kerb stone was found in the road it would be removed within two hours, though the kerb would be repaired within three months.


16.  Officers stated they were now targeting having a date for minor works to be done within ten days of reporting, in order to improve public understanding of the repairs process. Members expressed disappointment at the length of time it took to complete minor works, though officers admitted this was an area of improvement which they were looking at and they aimed to have the works done within three months.


17.  Minor works were being completed with other organisations, such as signs for those with special needs being created by a charity, with only 40% completed by May Gurney. To ensure these were positioned where appropriate the team was liaising with the Local Area Teams.


18.  Members raised concerns at a lack of communication and the quality of certain works. May Gurney agreed that this was an area of improvement for them. The Project and Contract Group Manager suggested that Surrey Highways needed to improve communication with Members regarding works in their areas and that he would investigate further.


19.  The Project and Contract Group Manager stated that he felt that planned maintenance had been the greatest success over the past 12 months as this was an area which had seen a lot of innovation, including Project Horizon which had reduced design costs from 40% to 15%. Additionally a new app for Members’ iPads was in development which would enable officers to update Members quickly regarding works in their division.


20.  May Gurney had previously had problems with cars parked on roads which were to be resurfaced, however gangs were now aware they had the power to remove cars.


21.  May Gurney felt that they had had a good year overall and that their focus was on delivering Project Horizon. They felt that being acquired by Kier would have good outcomes for Surrey as it was their biggest contract in highways. Kier, it was felt, would invest time and money into the delivery of the contract to improve the Surrey network.


22.  The Select Committee congratulated officers for the improvements made to Surrey’s highway network following the introduction of the May Gurney/Kier contract.






Actions/further information to be provided:


The Committee be provided with details of the first year of Project Horizon schemes at its meeting in October 2013.


Committee next steps:


The Committee to scrutinise the May Gurney/Kier contract at a future meeting.



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