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Highways are a vital part of the infrastructure of any area and a universally used service for residents and businesses in the County. The sustainability of the current service delivery levels are being continually challenged due to the significant budget reductions in the last few years, and as a result alternative service delivery models have been considered to secure a long term sustainable service. Many of the services provided in respect of Highways are statutory and whilst short term reductions in service can and have been made, these are not sustainable in the long term and there is a need to seek alternative ways to continue to deliver this through more commercial and flexible ways of working to help address this situation.
It is understood that the Highway budget could be reducing by an additional £1.1m and it is recognised that without a commercial input and by adopting a more flexible operating practice, it will not be possible to improve productivity and sustain the current range, depth and quality of Highways services. This situation is compounded by the increasing buoyancy of the construction market which has already attracted skilled staff away from the local authority sector. Adopting a commercial approach, securing external business and enhancing productivity has become paramount for the future viability and sustainability of the service.
An options appraisal was undertaken in 2014 to identify the most appropriate model to deliver a sustainable Highways service. The options appraisal concluded that a public joint venture company with an existing provider was the best model.