Number of minor repairs on county roads increases

Suffolk County Council's Sandra Gage

Suffolk County Council's Sandra Gage - Credit: Archant

The number of outstanding minor repairs on Suffolk's roads increased by almost 100 between July and November last year - despite county council promises that contractors would get on top of the work.

Contractors Kier MG saw the number of outstanding roadworks increase from 758 in July to 853 in November – at the most benign time of the year weather-wise.

More than half of those identified in November are still waiting to be dealt with.

But only 154 have repairs scheduled and 397 are still waiting for a date to be fixed. Meanwhile more reports of problems will have been coming in.

The figures are revealed in a letter sent by cabinet member for transport, Graham Newman, to all councillors, which includes a spreadsheet of all the individual repairs that are overdue.

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The figures came as no surprise to opposition transport spokeswoman Sandra Gage, who said the list of roads was incomplete. Some road details were sent to the wrong councillors. She said: 'This is further evidence that the contract with Kier simply is not working.

'There is much larger backlog of work than we have seen in the past.

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'It is getting worse – and the figures don't even seem to be accurate.

In his letter, Mr Newman says: 'I can assure you that changes are being made to the process of ordering and delivering minor works and local area highway schemes to ensure they are now being planned and delivered more effectively.

'Since the start of the contract in October 2013 over 30,000 orders have been passed to Kier, the vast majority of which have been delivered.'

Green group leader Mark Ereira felt the letter showed up an uncomfortable truth that: 'The contract is not working properly.

'We looked at how things were going at scrutiny committee at the council eight months ago and there were problems being flagged up.

'This shows that those issues are still there. They have not got on top of the problems. How will things be if we get a bad spell of weather in the next few weeks?

'I do have sympathy for Graham's position – he is trying to do all he can to get things going, but this is a privatisation that is not working well.'

Mr Newman said: 'To be fair this is not all the contractors' fault – we have received extra money from the government and that means there is more work being undertaken.

'Also, the value of the work is about £1.5million out of a £48million contract. Some of the work is very small jobs. Having said this, we are concerned and we have spoken to the regional director of Kier MG and we are all in no doubt that things need to improve.' He also said that Kier had completed more than 30,000 individual projects – and 80 per cent of outstanding jobs in July had been completed by November.

Jerry Pert, Kier general manager for Suffolk Highways, said: 'We are working closely with Suffolk County Council to reduce the jobs in the backlog of work.

'We have brought in additional resources to deliver work on the ground and I am pleased with the progress made to date.

'We have also worked with colleagues at Suffolk County Council to jointly develop new processes, to ensure new works entering our system can be managed efficiently and delivered on time.'

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