Highways Maintenance Programme
- Meeting of Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, Wednesday, 7th October, 2020 2.00 pm (Item 41.)
Report of the Director of Highways
This paper seeks to provide an update to the Scrutiny Committee on the previous Highways Maintenance Programme report of 6 November 2019.
The Committee considered a report of the Director of Highways that provided an update further to the report that was considered by the Committee at their meeting on 6 November 2019. The update was provided in the context of a service that had progressed well through an improvement journey and provided an overview of both key successes over this period alongside some ongoing challenges and areas that continued to need further improvement.
The main points and themes within the report included: -
· The Highways Service Key Achievements and Challenges
· Inspections and Repairs
· Highways planned Maintenance Programme update – year 4 progress and year 5 programme confirmation;
· Major projects update;
· Dashboard Performance Monitoring;
· Social Value;
· How information about how major schemes is provided to both local Ward Councillors and residents;
· Managing disruption caused by major projects;
· An update on the Winter gritting programme;
· Motorcycle Parking; and
· Covid response and Active Travel.
The Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport introduced the item by expressing her gratitude to all staff and contractors for their continued work during the pandemic. She described the Highways department as a proactive and positive service. She explained that work had continued to be delivered whilst complying with all local and national COVID guidance and that progress had continued to be made on the delivery of projects. She stated that the service had delivered social distancing measures and facilitated road closures so as to support people and business return to the city in a safe manner. In addition consultations had continued and the programme of active travel had continued and major schemes such as the CYCLOPS had been successfully completed. She further paid tribute to the contractors who had assisted the city’s response to the pandemic and supporting residents by delivering food parcels, supporting homeless charities, delivering PPE and helping with social distancing measures so that schools could reopen safely.
The Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport stated that Manchester remained committed to encouraging active travel for all residents across the city, however to successfully deliver all of the schemes adequate funding needed to be allocated by government. She informed the Members that despite statements being made by government on this issue funding to deliver this was not forthcoming.
Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -
· Consideration needed to be given as to when works were to be delivered, noting that in residential areas it was not appropriate to undertake works at night that would cause a disturbance to local residents;
· Residents needed to be appropriately informed of the intention to undertake works;
· An update was sought on the green screening of the Princess Road roundabout;
· Noting the delivery of Social Value through the contracts an assurance was sought that Manchester residents benefited from this and all companies undertaking works were appropriately vetted;
· Road marking were not reinstated in a timely manner following patch repairs;
· Utility companies needed to be held responsible for reinstating highways following works;
· Welcoming the successful delivery of the Fallowfield Loop scheme;
· Welcoming the information that had been provided by ward on gullies;
· Welcoming the review to be undertaken relating to the provision of motorcycle parking and clarification was sought regarding what was meant by off road parking; and
· Did the Highways Department consult with the Neighbourhoods Department to mitigate disruption to services.
The Director of Highways advised the Committee that there was an officer within the Department who oversaw Social Value and contracts and if Members had any specific concerns they should pass on the information and this would be investigated. He further stated that he recognised the tension that arose as a result of late night working and said it was always a difficult balance to achieve between disturbance and progressing the projects, noting the particular challenges presented by the location and physical environment of the Princess Road roundabout scheme. In response to the specific question regarding the green screening he advised that he would provide local Members with an update on this following the meeting.
A Member commented upon the impact of construction works and building sites on highways and enquired what the approach to monitoring these was. The Director of Highways advised that section 8 of the report described the approach taken to managing disruption caused by major projects
A Member recommended that the Committee received a report at their next meeting that detailed all of the social value achieved to date as a result of contracts awarded through the delivery of the Highways Maintenance Programme. The Member requested a breakdown of each scheme, the social value achieved (including employment and apprenticeship opportunities) with this information provided at a ward level where possible, to identify where those residents who had benefited from this lived in the city. The Chair endorsed this recommendation.
In regard to communications the Director of Highways informed the Committee that both he and the Executive Member had convened meetings to hear the views, feedback and suggestions from Members with a view to lessons learnt from the delivery of major schemes and improving communications with both residents and Members. The Chair welcomed this dialogue and recommended that these meetings continued, to include all Members of the Committee and that a briefing note on the outcomes and identified actions arising from these meetings are circulated to Members at an appropriate time.
The Director of Highways stated that road markings should be reinstated within three weeks of works being completed and if Members were aware of cases where this was not being done to alert the team, similarly with any issues with drains and gullies following resurfacing. He stated that work was underway to prioritise the schedule for gully emptying, however reassured the Members that the service would always respond to emergency repairs. The Director of Highways stated that information and data on the cyclical gully cleansing programme would be included in the Members performance dashboards that was regularly circulated.
With regard to the Fallowfield Loop, the Director of Highways stated that the department had received a significant volume of detailed responses to the consultation that were currently being reviewed. He further stated that appropriate drainage formed part of the design of any cycle scheme, having due regard to the users safety.
In response to the issues raised regarding works undertaken by utility companies the Director of Highways stated he recognised the frustration of Members, adding that whilst some companies responded better than others it remained an ongoing challenge and Manchester did have representation on a national body to identify improvements in this area.
In answer to the question relating to off street secure parking spaces for motorcycles, he said this related to consideration for options to locate these in multi storey car parks.
The Director of Highways confirmed that following organisation redesign the service now worked closely with the Neighbourhoods Department and had an officer dedicated to this role, adding that this had greatly improved dialogue between the services.
In respect to a discussion on the budget the Chair advised that this would be looked at in further detail as the Committee began to consider the budget options and proposals. The Chair further advised the Committee that at their November meeting the Committee would be receiving a report on active travel.
1. The Committee requests that information is submitted to the November meeting, detailing all of the social value achieved to date as a result of contracts awarded through the delivery of the Highways Maintenance Programme. The information should provide a breakdown of each scheme with the information provided at ward level, where possible, to identify where those residents who had benefited from this lived in the city.
2. The Committee recommend that regular meetings are convened by the Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport with all Members of the Committee to discuss Members issues or concerns relating to the delivery of highways projects, and that a briefing note on the outcomes and identified actions arising from these meetings are circulated to Members at an appropriate time.
3. Recommend that the Director of Highways include information and data on the cyclical gully cleansing programme in the Members performance dashboards that was regularly circulated.