'Radical changes' needed: Highways repair firm used by Shropshire Council criticised over delays

Shropshire’s road contractor is “not good at reacting quickly” to reports of damage, and smaller local firms could be used if they provide better service, the council’s chief executive has said.

Kier Group began a 10-year, £210 million deal with the authority in 2018, taking charge of highway maintenance, lighting and drainage.

Shropshire Council chief executive Clive Wright said the contract with the company allows it to use other providers, and said: “We will not solely rely on Kier going forward”.

The authority's performance management scrutiny committee received a presentation about highways issues, which said the percentage of roads “that should be considered for maintenance” was “above average and increasing” in Shropshire.

Committee member Michael Wood asked Mr Wright whether the Kier deal was giving value for money.

“I don’t think there is anyone in any parish council who would say that Kier have performed particularly well,” said Councillor Wood, who represents Worfield.

Mr Wright said: “Overall, we are making some radical and immediate changes, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I hope we will eventually be proved to have got it right.

Monitoring

“We’re going to focus based on need, place-by-place, because when we are focussed on a particular place, it incentivises the contractor to get in there and get it done, and it means we can monitor them in place.

“We have had exactly that conversation with Kier: ‘We’re going to be there, monitoring, and breathing over your shoulder’.”

Castlefields and Ditherington councillor Alan Mosley asked: “Are you convinced Kier have the ability to raise their game? Because I understand there are authorities who have already dumped Kier from their contracts.”

Mr Wright said: “Within our contract, we have got the ability to go outside our arrangement with Kier.

“They are not good with reactive work and mobilising quickly.

“If we get better performance with local firms, that is what we will go with in future.

“We will not solely rely on Kier going forward.”

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