Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TGNEWS to 80360 or you can email us Click here for details »
Private firm may take over county roads
10:30am Wednesday 21st July 2010 in Night Service
A PRIVATE firm could be given a contract worth up to £3billion to oversee Essex’s entire road network.
Essex County Council has published a contract notice in the Official Journal of the European Union calling for bids from one or more companies to “transform the way in which highways and transportation services are delivered”.
The authority is looking to offer a firm or consortium a ten- year contract worth between £500million and £3billion, according to the notice.
The huge range of work the successful bidder would carry out includes safety inspections, resurfacing works, improvements to junctions, new zebra crossings and managing the county’s traffic control centre.
They would also be responsible for highways lighting, supplying and maintaining bus stops, some consultancy work and more.
Individual contractors currently carry out a lot of this work, but county council employees are responsible for organising it.
The county council’s Conservative administration has been carrying out a “transformation” of the way the council is run for the past two-and-a-half years.
It aims to save more than £300million by 2014, cutting as much as possible from backroom operations rather than frontline services.
Mick Marney, branch secretary of public service union Unison at County Hall, said he had been told the council had made no commitments to privatise the work.
But if they went ahead, he added, job losses were inevitable.
He said: “Clearly they’ve made savings of £60million so far. I think that’s the easy part.
“When you come to the nitty-gritty savings, then there are consequences.
“You don’t make savings without putting jobs on the line.
“The only savings you’re ever going to make is the cost of people’s jobs and moving staff to the private sector.”
A county council spokesman said: “As part of Essex County Council’s highways strategic transformation, we are currently seeking to select one single integrated service provider, who will work with us to deliver all of the services that are currently provided by our various contractors.
“This will ensure that we are providing value for money to our residents while enhancing standards and customer service.
“We intend to open a competitive dialogue with potential providers that come forward, and appoint a single integrated service provider by September 2011.”