Anger rises over the state of Suffolk’s roads

The maintenance of Suffolk’s roads is now worse than ever – with constant complaints about their state and about the way contractors Kier MG carry out repairs.

That is the verdict from county council opposition transport spokeswoman Sandra Gage as she and fellow Labour councillors say they have heard serious complaints from angry road users.

However, bosses at Kier and the county council insist things are getting better, despite figures published last month showing that the company had shown little improvement in hitting its targets since the start of the year. Kier was awarded the roads maintenance contract in 2013.

Ms Gage claims that Kier’s performance in meeting its time and budget targets was not good enough.

She alleged that diversion signs were confusing and that sometimes not enough notice was given of road closures.

She said she and her Labour councillor colleagues were getting similar complaints in Ipswich every week and said it was difficult to get a satisfactory response from the council, but added: “I have huge sympathy for the operational staff who are hardworking.”

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for transport James Finch said he had been working very closely with Kier over the last few months and things were improving.

In a statement drawn up by Suffolk Highways – the umbrella group including the council and Kier – he said: “In most areas the highways service has improved since our collaboration with Kier, although I acknowledge that we will still be striving for improvements in the highways service.

“Over the past 20 months since the Suffolk Highways Contract with Kier started, both SCC and Kier have refined and improved processes.

“This ensures the delivery of works on the ground quickly and efficiently as possible, whilst minimising the disruption to local communities. Through the letting of the contract the highways service has actually, as anticipated, met its savings targets.”

Figures published last month showed that Kier had hit 15 of its 24 targets in January, 14 in February, 13 in March, and 14 in April – the last month that figures were available for. Further statistics are likely to be published in the autumn.

Mr Finch said there had been successes:

The £9m machine surfacing programme will be completed by end of October as planned.

The £4m surface dressing programme will be completed by early September.

Work has started on £1.5M worth of work to improve capacity around Nacton Road and Ransomes Way in Ipswich.

Work has started clearing the backlog of small scale works.

Publiched in the East Anglian Daily Times, 19/08/15
Link to article can be found here.

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