Tackling local authorities’ transport challenges on this week’s Highways Voices

“The site went down all day – completely bust – couldn’t fix it had to dig everything up, and after that,” explains Sean Bulmer of the City of York Council on this week’s Highways Voices as he discusses equipment obsolescence at SWARCO’s User Group meeting. “We now have the TSAR project, which is the asset renewal project in York, so every year we do X amount of sites, and then next year, x amount of sites, and this, we’re being told, will go on forever.”

Mr Bulmer was one of a panel of four people you’ll hear from today on Highways Voices discussing the challenges facing local authorities in delivering efficient, sustainable and safe transport networks, who were appearing at the SWARCO User Group meeting in Coventry.

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In the discussion hosted by Highways Voices producer and presenter Paul Hutton, fellow panellist Emily Madsen explains that attracting people into the industry is tough with remuneration as it is “We need to raise the pay,” she says, “so that it does get people interested and stay and get that retention of people,” while David Hilton-Barber from Derbyshire also agreed retention was an issue, “Obviously, you’re gonna go somewhere where you get a better job,” he says, “but as a council we spend all this time training someone, spending the effort and the money, and [they leave and] get paid twice as much going anywhere else.”

Industry challenges discussed in the session were highlighted by all participants at the meeting, made up of representatives from 30 local authorities. The panel discussed not only equipment obsolescence and recruitment and retention, but also active travel, environmental issues, public and private sector collaboration, plus budgetting, funding and procurement, which SWARCO’s UK Managing Director John Pickworth explained was more than just being able to do the job: “So the question ‘can you deliver the project’ – you might deliver perfectly, do all the right things, but if it’s not got the right attachments to it in terms of the board members seeing or DfT seeing that actually this delivers this result, and we’re talking about and shouting about it, and telling the world about it, then the next bit of funding doesn’t follow.”

Enjoy the full, enlightening discussion, on this week’s Highways Voices!


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