Agenda item


Purpose of the report:  Scrutiny of Services


In January 2015 the authority will have to make a decision on extending the highways maintenance term contract with Kier. The initial term of the contract finishes in April 2017 and Surrey have a choice of either not extending beyond that or extending by up to four years.  The Member Reference Group (MRG) was asked to review the contract with Kier and provide Select Committee with their insights on that decision.




Jason Russell, Assistant Director for Highways and Transport

Mark Borland, Works Delivery Group Manager

Key Points Raised During the Discussion:

1.   The report was introduced by the Assistant Director for Highways and Transport (ADHT) who provided a brief overview of the report, highlighting the good level of contact between Surrey, Kier Officers and the Member Reference Group (MRG) both before and during the formation of the report.

2.   The ADHT advised that, in line with the MRG’s assessment, Kier be allowed to develop a 5 year business plan - in conjunction with Surrey Officers - covering the 2016/21 period to be delivered to Cabinet by the end of next year. As part of this process it was recommended by the ADHT that a one-year extension be granted to the existing contract to allow a business plan to be drawn up. It was also established that the existing MRG should be closely involved in this process.

3.   Members were informed that the MRG had also been instrumental in identifying areas requiring improvement such as the current IT infrastructure employed by Highways teams. It was stressed by the Committee that the management of IT infrastructure of this kind would be essential to the success of normal operations going forward and that it was important for Officers to continue to identify areas where SCC and Kier systems can align and to ensure software compatibility where possible. This was noted as being critical to the long term success of the contract; particularly in light of recent IT upgrades being carried out by Kier internally.

4.   Members expressed concern over the issues raised in Paragraph 26 regarding the level of communication SCC and Kier are reported to have had with residents up to this point. The Committee stressed the importance of SCC and Kier representatives having regular contact with Local Committees and endorsed that officers find means of achieving this in the long term.

5.   The Committee expressed the view that communication problems impacted local businesses during periods where road maintenance was carried out. Members cited issues with the quality of road signage and the inadequate level of consultation prior to road closures as having adversely affected businesses as a result. The Committee expressed a desire to see the development of a clearer communication strategy in order to tackle this more appropriately in future.

6.   Members noted issues concerning the efficiency of current gulley cleaning efforts being administered by Conway and expressed a desire to see this addressed more acutely in future.

7.   The Committee raised concerns with the points raised in Paragraph 30 regarding the existing organisational structure of Surrey Highways. Members maintained that further restructuring was unnecessary and stressed that previous efforts had resulted in a worsening of communications between stakeholders rather than an improvement.

8.   The ADHT advised the Committee that both Kier and SCC are continuously making improvements to the service to make it as robust as possible. It was also acknowledged that improving the quality of communication with residents was key to this and would continue to be at the forefront of this approach going forward.

9.   The Committee was informed that one means being considered to address this was the creation of a dedicated public liaison officer within the terms of the contract. Members were concerned whether this was feasible with the funding constraints of the current contract. It was explained that such a position would funded through further efficiencies in the current contract.

10.Officers explained to the Committee that sub-contractors have been used in the existing framework. It was noted that the service was looking to more localized supply chains for sub-contractual work where appropriate (in line with Kier and SCC standards).

11.Members were made aware that SCC was in a good position in comparison to other authorities on this item. The ADHT explained that the proposed 5 year extension consideration allowed for SCC’s proposals to be both more comprehensive in a national context and was unique in this respect.

12.Members of the MRG explained to the Committee that they plan to continue holding each body to account through site visits and conversations directly with Kier and SCC representatives. It was also established that the MRG will meet with Members from Northamptonshire in the New Year to evaluate their experiences with Kier and identify areas where this can improve SCC’s existing arrangement.


The Environment and Transport Select Committee agreed the following recommendations;


a)    That the Select Committee endorse the proposal that Cabinet approve an initial extension to the Kier contract of at least one year; during which time Kier will be given the opportunity to work with Surrey to develop a 5 year business plan covering the period 2016-2021.

b)    That the Highways and Transport MRG provide ongoing member insight and scrutiny and report back to Select Committee before October 2015.

Actions/Further Information to be Provided:

  • Officers to provide the Committee with the finalised Kier contract before it goes to Cabinet in October 2015.

  • Member Reference Group to provide the Select Committee with a progress update in due course.

Committee Next Steps:


Supporting documents: