Shropshire Council has announced plans to close two of its five highways depots, as part of plans to further improve the council’s highways maintenance service.
Under the proposals, the depots at Bridgnorth and Hodnet would close, with operations continuing at the three main depots in Whittington, Shrewsbury and Craven Arms.
No jobs would be lost, and modelling has demonstrated that there will be no detrimental impact on services to those areas currently covered by those depots. Indeed, it is typical of a council area of Shropshire’s size to be serviced by two to three highway depots.
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways, said: “The decision to close these two depots was taken to help provide a more effective service and as part of our wider operational improvement plan, and wasn’t driven by cost savings. Indeed, the reduction in overheads will free up money that can be reinvested into our work to improve Shropshire’s roads.”
The focusing of operations from three depots in Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Craven Arms means that the council and its contractor Kier can be co-located so that there are better communications, oversight and consistency across the board, and will enable improvement in the quality of works and engagement with stakeholders. This approach has been demonstrated to be good practice across the country.
Centralising teams also increases the operational resilience of the service during staff absences, as well improving the management of the health, safety and wellbeing of staff.
Each of the three remaining depots will be managed by an area manager from both Shropshire Council and Kier, supported by local technicians and supervisors.
The operational delivery is a mixed economy model, which means in all three areas the council has directly employed teams undertaking both reactive maintenance and highways drainage, to compliment Kier teams. Co-ordination and shared learning between these two teams is essential to fast track improvements and ensure that we are undertake timely and right first time repairs across the county.
The current delivery resource levels have not been as strong as they currently are for many years and their objectives have never been clearer. We therefore don’t anticipate any detrimental impact on service in terms of operational delivery; indeed we see this as the next step in the continuation of the improvements that have been delivered over the past year.