Cheshire East seeks to ‘quality assure’ future road repairs

Roads resurfacing image

A quality assurance officer will be recruited to inspect work carried out on the borough's roads to help the authority drive up the quality of highways repairs and ensure value for money in the work done.

Cheshire East Council recently approved a new budget, which includes a £19m capital investment in planned highways maintenance over the next three years.

However, this investment by Cheshire East Council is set against the backdrop of a £3m cut in government funding for highways maintenance in 2020/21, and a freeze in government funding for the next three years.

For many years, funding for highways maintenance has been below the level necessary to prevent deterioration of the highways network. The council is now seeking to ensure that these limited funds are spent in the most cost-effective way possible.

Councillor Craig Browne, chair of the council's highways and transport committee, said: "The vast majority of our residents understand that budgets are tight. However, they are also frustrated when they see the deterioration in the condition of the highway.

"I am pleased that this investment in quality assurance will go some way towards addressing that. The council has the in-house skills to work with our contractor to ensure we improve performance, deliver high-quality work and demonstrate we are a council that listens to residents' concerns and acts on them."

Councillor Laura Crane, vice-chair of the council's highways and transport committee, said: "Whilst the level of funding provided by central government is simply inadequate to meet the maintenance needs of Cheshire East's roads and prevent them deteriorating further, we are increasing that level of investment by £19m over the next three years.

"This additional investment is having to be funded by borrowing, which although necessary in the short term, isn't a sustainable position in the long term.

"The only real positive from this settlement is that we at least have funding certainty for the next three years so can better plan ahead, looking at how we can use the financial surety to generate even greater value for money.

"But the frozen level of government funding does not take into account inflation, which is running year on year at a 30-year high – so we are looking in real-terms at a cut in government funding each year."

In addition to the additional investment in the road repairs programme this year, the council is also planning to increase spending on highways inspections, responding to emergencies, hedge/tree maintenance and managing flood risk, including gully emptying.

Councillor Browne added: "We are a large semi-rural authority with a complex and extensive highways network. Assessment by our strategic highways team shows that we need to invest close to £30m each year to keep the roads in their current state and this level of funding has not been achieved for many years.

"This means that we are now facing a backlog of repair works totalling well over £100m, which remains unfunded."

The council is to initially recruit one quality assurance officer. The council's head of highways also has a newly-expanded quality assurance role.



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Barry Buxton
Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at 3:05 pm
Agree this appointment is needed, but it shouldn't be necessary to add to headcount - at taxpayer expense. Councillor Brownie is quoted as saying "the council has the in house skills" so make that a headcount neutral in house appointment.
Mike Hennessy
Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at 3:10 pm
good move. however, that is only the inspection part. you need a contracts manager who will specify what needs to be done and to what standard and will negotiate the price, penalties and other terms. the compliance officer will ensure the contractor delivers against it - or pays penalties for non compliance
Mike Cooksey
Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at 3:25 pm
Cheshire West seemed to have an eye on the ball.
Every pothole I saw yesterday in CW had cut edges, were symmetrical, and edges were sealed.
It looked as though they had they employed a contractor who was conscientious and had been given specific instructions.
Not so in CE.
Howard Piltz
Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at 3:52 pm
Just chasing shadows, I’m afraid. Newly re-surfaced road-works outside the new houses at the top of Moor Kane I’d breaking-up already as it wasn’t properly finished by the contractor. Will anybody notice ?
Peter Davenport
Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at 4:18 pm
Councillor Browne states that there is only one contractor who does this work. He seems to be in another world compared to the rest of us, as the pot hole filler seems to be a firm called Dodgson "filling" the potholes, and not the 15 year contract firm.
Perhaps an explanation is required, as it maybe I have misread to names on the vehicles!
Peter Davenport
Simon Rodrigues
Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at 4:52 pm
Ok lets say the work on the A34 for instance junction of Ford garage, whereby they have tarmac’d over a metal man hole cover with no substrate or bitumen so come winter rain gets under it lifts it up and complete waste of tax payers money. The man hole cover has collapsed and needs addressing not covering up with tarmac. The rubbish that has been removed have been left in piles only to work they way back come the next rain fall. Barriers haven’t been repaired. Alderley end of A34 crash barrier protecting the water pumps has had 3 accidents to date that i know off of your the driver get in touch i will help you sue the highways. This barrier does not comply with road regulations or safety including a solid white line with cats eyes in red to show the shift in the lane. So happy to hear that someone will be appointed, at least we will have someone to point the finger at if they dont do or resolve the above issues.
Ray Byrne
Wednesday 23rd March 2022 at 8:18 pm
Clerk of Works they were called in my day. May not have been academics but they knew how work should be carried out and would ensure the Contractor did so. No doubt the "Quality Assurance Officer" will be a University Graduate, highly intelligent and brilliant on computers but clueless on basic construction techniques.
Laurie Atterbury
Thursday 24th March 2022 at 6:16 am
Glad to see CEC are finally looking into the potholes; us motorists and cyclists have been looking into them for years!
Terry Roeves
Friday 25th March 2022 at 10:23 am
Unbelievable that CEC have not bothered to check the quality of the work we are paying for. Excuse after excuse proffered. Hopeless frankly.
How many years has it been since we had a Clerk of Works and got a proper job done?
Suzanne Walford
Saturday 26th March 2022 at 1:12 pm
Is this article seriously suggesting that CEC has been spending tax payers money to date with no idea whether the work is up to standard it not? If so, shocking!
Stuart Redgard
Saturday 26th March 2022 at 4:39 pm
#Suzzane Walford.

The answer to your question is basically yes. These were all part of the terms and conditions that the previous Conservative-led Council agreed to when appointing Ringway Jacobs in 2018.


So please do not blame the current Labour and Independent team who are now in charge of the council and are trying to renegotiate the terms and conditions.

The following is extracted from the article referred to above:

in 2018, Councillor Glen Williams (Cnservative), the deputy cabinet member for environment, said:

"This new contract with Ringway Jacobs will better meet the needs of our residents and road users, whether it is gritting in the winter months or road repairs and resurfacing work during the better weather.

"We have an extensive urban and rural road network and the demands on our service are understandably severe at times.

"I am confident that this new contract will ensure we continue to deliver the highest possible standard of service throughout Cheshire East and deliver value for money for our residents and businesses."

If the performance of RINGWAY JACOBS has been to the standard required by the terms of the agreement, then I would suggest that:

1) The terms and conditions agreed with were simply "not adequate'.

2) They have not ensured the highest possible standard of service throughout Cheshire East.

3) They have not been "value for money", for either the residents or businesses.

And just for clarification, I am not a member of any political party, nor do I support any of the political parties represented by any councilors on Cheshire East Council.