Agenda item

Post Core Investment Review of the Streets Ahead Contract

Report of the Director of Culture and Environment



The Committee received an update on the Post Core Investment Period Review of the Streets Ahead Contract to look at service delivery performance, contract issues and future work programmes.




In attendance for this item were Councillor Lewis Dagnall (Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene), Philip Beecroft (Head of Highway Maintenance), Darren Butt (Amey), Clare Smith (Procurement and Supply Chain Manager, Sheffield City Council), Helen McIlroy and Christine King (Sheffield People’s Audit).




Public Questions




Helen McIlroy stated that the People’s Audit was about making sure that the citizens of Sheffield were getting value for money from the Amey Contract. She said that she was concerned about how the money on the contract had been spent and, having looked at the data provided on the Council’s website, she thought a lot of information had not been made publicly available.  Christine King added that a lot of clear, meaningful information had been omitted and the information that was available was not open and transparent and did not fully reflect what was happening in the city.  Ms. King stated that there were no performance figures, whether things on the city’s streets were improving or getting worse, and very often the website only reported on things that were going well, but not on things that were not working so well. She also enquired whether the data that was on the website was uploaded on a monthly basis and how often an audit of the Company was carried out.




Responses to these questions were as follows:-




·                     The amount of work that had been carried out by Amey had been phenomenal and it was impossible to report back on it on a monthly basis.




·                     Although the contract the Council has with Amey was under review, it was business as usual and the contract will continue as normal.




·                     A report on every strategic contract was published on the Council’s website and it was possible for the contracts to remain accessible to the public.




·                     Any repairs that were reported to the Streets Ahead, were passed onto to Amey and were dealt with by them, and the response time varied depending on the type of job required.




Philip Beecroft introduced the report and outlined the spectrum of the Streets Ahead Contract, its achievements to date, any contractual issues and the future of the works.  He said that the contract was for 25 years to address the decline of the highways around the city.  During the first five years of the contract the targets to improve the condition of roads and footpaths, street lighting, replacement of traffic signals and highway structures have all been achieved.  Savings had been made on street lighting through the use of LED lights, carbon emissions and energy bills have been reduced and the network requires less maintenance.  Philip Beecroft said that the funding for the scheme had been sought by bidding for Government funding and additional capital from the Council’s highways revenue budget.  He added that the Streets Ahead team and Amey hold regular service improvement meetings and service monitoring meetings and performance on the scheme has been inspected independently. 




Darren Butt admitted that there had been issues with the contract as there might be with any large contract, but there had been marked improvements; the city centre is litter-free, the gulleys are cleaned on a regular basis and there will be ongoing maintenance to the city’s streets.  Amey, as a company, have introduced an Internship Programme for young people and also have taken on apprentices.




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·                     Due to the amount of resurfacing works already carried out, which was to 70% of the city’s streets, it was inevitable that some surfaces required further repairs to them, which was due to the wrong design, original surface, road layout etc. Any such repairs had been and would continue to be undertaken at no extra cost.




·                     Last Spring, grit bins were removed from the city’s streets but following a review, over 1,900 grit bins across the city were replaced and these were checked and filled at the start of the winter.  Details of where the grit bins are located and how to request a grit bin, can be found on the City Council’s website.




·                     Graffiti, once reported to Customer Services, will be removed on roads or pavements, litter bins, road signs, lighting, as well as from bridges and subways. Also graffiti could be removed from privately owned houses, and Streets Ahead would charge to remove it from commercial premises.




·                     The Council rely heavily on members of the public reporting issues in their area, especially if grit bins have not been replenished or there are “grot spots”. Amey are very proactive in dealing with these issues, making sure the right Council service is aware that a problem exists.




·                     During last year, there were only four incidents reported where people had been injured whilst the works were being carried out.  Amey operate a strong “safety first” culture and should anything be found to be unsafe on site, work would stop immediately.  The Council’s Highways Department have scrutinised Amey’s health and safety standards and a Health and Safety Team visits sites regularly to check that those standards are being upheld.




·                     The rationale for Streets Ahead is to maintain a level of investment and although cuts have been made, performance in grounds maintenance is very good.  Issues between the Housing, Highways and Parks Services have arisen but the Council is looking at ways to improve this and recognises that a lot more work still needs to be done.




·                     Due to the introduction of LED street lighting, the standard of lighting is much improved and directed to illuminate where needed.  If there are any problems with street lights, these should be reported.




·                     Roads had been resurfaced when their optimum life had been reached and will be treated again before the end of the 25 year contract, with surface dressing to protect the life of the road.




·                     A survey of the roads will be carried out bi-annually and where any don’t meet the necessary standard, they will be added to the next programme of works.




·                     It was accepted that sometimes the Council’s website was not the easiest to access, but it was hoped that improvements will be made.  




·                     The future was to have “smart cities”, having sensors on bins, street lights, grit bins, gulley etc. that will detect when repairs/maintenance is needed.  In the meantime, the public need to be more proactive at reporting any issues they have.




·                     Amey were happy to work alongside the People’s Audit and acknowledged that it is not for them to gather information regarding the Streets Ahead Programme. However, officers were of the opinion that People’s Audit were suspicious of the Council and Amey, and tried to “catch them out”, but stated that some information was commercially sensitive and not open to the public.




·                     When a road has been repeatedly dug up by the utility services, it was the responsibility of the utility service concerned to patch the road up.  Eventually, the patched up areas will be covered by resurfacing.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)       thanks Councillor Lewis Dagnall (Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene), Philip Beecroft (Head of Highway Maintenance), Clare Smith (Procurement and Supply Chain Manager) and Darren Butt (Amey) for their contribution to the meeting;




(b)       notes the contents of the report and the responses to questions; and




(c)        requests that an update report on the Streets Ahead Contract be brought to the Committee on an annual basis.


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