Costain will start work on a £300 million contract with East Sussex County Council on Sunday (1 May).
The seven-year contract, won in joint venture with CH2M, will formally start on 1 May. It will bring together several aspects of highways maintenance, such as roads, pavements, drainage, street lights, traffic lights and structures that are currently run by outside contractors and the county council.
Significantly for Costain, this is the first highways maintenance contract to be won from a county council, covering a much broader spectrum of activities than normal. In East Sussex at present, Kier runs highways maintenance, Colas the street lighting contract and Siemens the traffic signals.
Integrating these activities will see more than 200 staff transferring across to the Costain-CH2M organisation.
Around 20 East Sussex staff will manage the contract and the council will retain control of areas such as policy setting, long-term strategy and service development. The JV will design and build the physical works required in an annual plan.
On more reactive maintenance, 12 stewards from the council, together with inspectors from the JV, will be out and about, looking for defects such as potholes.
However, a significant aspect of the JV’s activities will be to gain maximum involvement from the local community. “We’re going to be really interactive with the general public,” said David Bailey, Costain’s local authorities director.
A local call centre handles some 100,000 calls annually, with the service handling around 30,000 defects a year. By creating a new website through which residents can report road or street lighting problems and receive status updates, the JV is seeking to drive down this number.
The contract is worth £300m over seven years and could lead to more opportunities of this type: “We’re very much going for big, integrated contracts,” said Bailey, “but we’re being very selective over jobs we’re bidding for.”