The Isle of Wight Council has appointed an organisation to assist with the management of the Highways PFI contract on a short term basis until key vacancies are filled within the team that oversees the Island Roads contract.
Atkins, a respected design, engineering and project management consultancy, will work with the council for up to six months to assist in managing the contract more effectively, ensuring that it provides the best value possible at all times.
Councillor Phil Jordan, Executive member for public protection and Highways PFI, said:
“We have inherited the responsibility for the Highways PFI contract, but as most of those involved in its procurement are no longer with the council, it has been difficult to get to grips with the management of the contract as we would like.
“There are significant areas of uncertainty about responsibility for areas of work that are of the most interest to the public, which has led to some differences of opinion with Island Roads which remain unresolved.
“It is unacceptable for us to allow this uncertainty to continue, which is why we have employed Atkins to help strengthen our position and improve the situation for the Isle of Wight community.”
As well as providing day to day support with the management of the contract, Atkins will be tasked with undertaking a review of parts of the current contract and its requirements so that there is complete clarity about where the responsibility of Island Roads and the council starts and finishes.
This clarification is important for residents, the council and Island Roads in avoiding situation that can hold up works and response to the public.
Councillor Jonathan Bacon, leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said:
“This is an important step in starting to resolve the problems many residents feel they are experiencing in respect of the work and responsibilities of Island Roads under the contract.”
Paul Herbert, Island Roads service director, said: “We welcome the appointment of Atkins as we share the council’s desire to provide the best possible service for the Island. We look forward to working with the council and with Atkins to help us deliver that aim.”
An important part of Atkins’ role will be to overcome the current backlog of work requests that have been caught in the system between Island Roads and the council, for example requests for dropped kerbs, disabled parking bays, safety improvement schemes etc.
Finally, the council will ask Atkins to put forward proposals for the future structure of the council’s contract management team to ensure it provides best value for the lifetime of the PFI contract.