Road contractor 'failing to keep on top of the basics' says county councillor (From Watford Observer)
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Road contractor, Ringway, 'failing to keep on top of the basics' says Councillor Steven Giles-Medhurst
A Watford politician has hit out at the performance of Hertfordshire County Council’s new £220 million highways contractor just four months into the seven year contract.
Ringway signed a contract with the council to maintain the county’s 3,000 miles of roads and pavements from October 2012 until 2019.
The deal is expected to earn them £35 million in the first year alone.
But residents have been left frustrated at a perceived increase in the amount of potholes on the county’s roads and the time it takes to repair them.
In an open letter to Councillor Stuart Pile, executive member for highways and transport, Watford and Oxhey county councillor, Steven Giles-Medhurst attacks the quality of work done so far by Ringway and accused them of "failing to keep on top of the basics".
Councillor Pile said hazardous potholes should be temporarily repaired within 24 hours of them being reported but added permanent repairs were preferable.
Lib Dem group leader, Councillor Giles-Medhurst said: "Despite assurances given before the award of the contract, it seems that we are not getting value for money.
"Ringway are failing to keep on top of the basics, namely the job of maintaining our roads and footways.
"With a cold snap forecast and a backlog of potholes it seems that the situation will only get worse and if it does then the county council will have been caught short yet again - unless there is a dramatic improvement in the next week."
The amount paid to Ringway each year is dependent on performance but Councillor Giles-Medhurst said he expects the full value of the contract over the next seven years to be £220 million.
He added "The experience that my group, and I understand other county councillors and certainly residents, have been having, has led us to question Ringway’s performance and its ability to carry out the scope and scale of these works.
"I am sure the experiences that my group have been having while serving 17 county divisions is mirrored in other areas to judge from newspaper reports I have seen."
Ringway took over the contract, replacing an Amey Lafarge joint venture and Mouchel as highways contractor in October 2012 but Councillor Giles-Medhurst says there is still confusion about what their responsibilities are.
He said: "I would also say that my group are greatly perturbed that not only do Ringway appear unable to fulfil fully what we expect of them but they appear to be trying to pass the buck in some instances, saying things are not in their contract/for them to do.
"An example here appears to be that they don’t appear to know they should be fixing flood problems."
Neither Councillor Pile nor Ringway could be reached for comment at time of publication.