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Balfour Beatty performance 'satisfactory', says Wiltshire Council
9:16am Friday 10th January 2014 in Wiltshire
An internal inquiry has found that Wiltshire Council’s troubled £250 million highways maintenance contract is performing satisfactorily but has highlighted areas for improvement.
The council’s scrutiny committee investigated the controversial contract, which attracted criticism last summer when it was taken on by Balfour Beatty Living Places.
Residents and parish councils were unhappy as verges and hedgerows went uncut, and roads were unswept with concerns raised over lack of staff and equipment.
In October Balfour Beatty said it had lost £1 million since taking on the contract, and announced job losses across its maintenance teams.
The contract was called in for scrutiny before Christmas with a full report presented on Tuesday.
It calls for greater communication between the firm and the council, along with evidence that the “most appropriate” grass cutting equipment is available, that personnel are fully trained to use it and productivity has improved.
Cllr Jeff Osborn first called for the contract to be investigated.
He said: “With a major contract like this you expect to have hiccups and you have to process through it.
“However, I do want to publically put on record a tribute to the council staff and contractors for their considerable and much-valued work in response to the recent flooding.”
Cllr Jon Thomson, cabinet member for highways, said changes to the contract will be made along with a new map to confirm which areas the council is responsible for.
He said: “There have been issues with the contract, but no-one’s going to die from grass cutting.
“There is never a right time to change from one contract to another, but imagine trying to do that now with all the flooding we’re dealing with.
“We aren’t out of this yet, and there is still a lot more work to be done.”
The committee will look again at the contract in March.
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