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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Question by Brian Clark to Matthew Balfour, Cabinet Member for Environment & Transport

March 30, 2016 10:33 AM

The progressing of Member Highway Grant projects can be lengthy as well as costly and I am aware that officers even after repeated phone calls are often left waiting months to receive an update from our chosen supplier. Once updates have been received the question remains is the project value for money, with an example being that one of my projects was estimated to cost close to twice the price quoted by another KCC approved independent contractor. Therefore, will the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport explain how he plans to make improvements to encourage Members to continue to fund highways projects for the benefit of Kent's residents?

Answer

I understand that Members have concerns about the Highways Grant so I have asked for options looking at changes. The key principles of the proposed changes to highway scheme delivered through the Combined Member Grant are to improve:

We propose that District Managers become the key contact for members considering funding a highway improvement. Part of the remit for the District Managers under this new proposal will be to consider the most efficient and cost effective way of delivering projects which, may well include looking to other providers, ordering the items directly or looking at whether local groups might be able to deliver a project more efficiently and they will advise County Member accordingly.

I appreciate that some schemes may seem expensive when they include bespoke materials but routine works such as lining, surfacing and signing works can still offer best value for money through our term contractor and the District Manager will be experienced in delivering these projects and can offer good advice to get the best outcome for County Members funding.

I hope that combined with a move to a more programmed way of working, this may also offer efficiencies in terms of cost as schemes will not be delivered in a reactive way. Good forward planning for schemes can ultimately identify ways to save costs as they could be programmed with other scheme road closures or can cut costs in terms of additional night works and weekend working. This will also give County Members greater surety both of delivery dates and at cost. A paper on proposed changes will be considered by Environment and Transport Cabinet committee in May.