Council Tax payers foot £10 million bill for splitting Northamptonshire highways contract

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Current £50m deal to be replaced by TWO worth £30m each for West and North from September

Council Tax payers across Northamptonshire are footing a £10 million-a-year bill for splitting a highways contract in two.

The former Northamptonshire County Council's long-standing deal, understood to be worth around £50 million a year, with service providers KierWSP ends in September.

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It will be replaced by TWO agreements with the new West and North unitary councils which replaced the single highways authority last year.

KierWSP has held the highways contract for Northamptonshire since 2008KierWSP has held the highways contract for Northamptonshire since 2008
KierWSP has held the highways contract for Northamptonshire since 2008

Those agreements are understood to be worth around £30 million EACH.

Reports in 2020 revealed the former county council agreed to spend £1.4 million on a team of consultants to draw up the new procurement contracts.

A report to be discussed by West Northamptonshire Council cabinet on Tuesday (May 3) confirmed: "Two separate highways contracts are expected to be more expensive than the current one single contract."

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Officers from the two councils are working closely together to evaluate bids although it is not known if Keir WSP, which has looked after the county's local roads, footpaths, signage, drains and winter gritting since 2008, is among the candidates.

The report adds, however: “The procurement timetable indicates that the contract award will be made in May 2022 in time for the services to commence under the new contract from September 12, 2022.

“Arrangements are also being finalised to enable the transfer of operational managers and staff to the new provider(s).”

The new contract is set to run for seven years, with the potential to extend to a maximum of 14 years.

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Councillor Phil Larratt, WNC’s Cabinet Member for transport and highways, said: “Maintaining local roads is one of the largest, most essential services we provide to the public so it’s absolutely crucial that we shape and award a contract that delivers upon our priorities for making future improvements.

“We’ve considered and placed the needs of our residents at the heart of this procurement process, whilst also balancing the desire for high quality services alongside the future cost.

“It’s important that our new highways partner also shares our vision for a more sustainable West Northants and works with us to protect and improve our environment, economy and society for future generations.

“It’s been a long, technical and often complicated process but I’m really pleased that we’re now nearing contract completion, with a view to the new service being in place from this autumn.”

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North Northamptonshire Council executive is due to receive an update on its procurement process at its next meeting on May 19.

Last year’s local government shake-up came after Northamptonshire County Council was axed by ministers having effectively gone bankrupt.

Already, one director of public health covering the whole county has been replaced by two £100,000-a-year roles while many areas have seen above average rises in council tax bills to bring them in line with neighbours since April 2020.

Earlier this year, West Northamptonshire Council approved a headline increase of 2.99 percent, although bills in the former Daventry District Council areas went up by more than four percent.