Opposition parties in Suffolk deliver joint call for highway maintenance to be brought in house

Opposition councillors in Suffolk have called for road maintenance in the area to be brought back in-house to combat high prices.

The Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group (GLDI) have created a petition to create a maintenance team at Suffolk County Council.

The group said this would help control costs and offer better value for money. But, the Conservative administration said it was not possible and could drive up prices, reports the BBC and the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The GLDI said it had been quoted “significant fees” when looking at the price of works.

Among examples quoted were £5,000 for a pair of dropped kerbs, £7,500 to cut down one tree and £10,000 to design four humps in a road, according to the group.

New highway contracts worth more than £1bn for another 20 years are being procured by the council, are being considered.

Keith Welham, the GLDI group spokesman for highways, said: “We have created this petition to give residents the chance to join us in calling for action to fix some of these astronomical prices we have seen given for simple maintenance jobs in Suffolk.

“We want to create a fairer system and a well-maintained network of Suffolk highways, and an in-house bid is one step to supporting this.”

However, the Conservative administration said in-house maintenance would “not be viable”.

Paul West, cabinet member for Ipswich, operational highways and flooding, said there would be “the burden of tens of millions of pounds in upfront capital costs associated with vehicles, machinery and traffic management”, as well as ongoing costs for maintenance.

“External contractors have far greater buying power, industry standard skillsets and better knowledge of the new and emerging innovation and technology,” Mr West said.

“We strive to deliver excellent value for money for Suffolk’s residents, and highways is no exception.”

He said the council would find the “most suitable, competitive and reliable contractors” for new highways contracts next year, said the BBC and Local Democracy Reporting Service.

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