Innovations made by Herefordshire’s public realm contractor Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) have been praised by a council group scrutinising the contract.
The ‘task and finish’ group looked at what had gone well in the first year of the contract and what could be improved in the future.
The group was ‘highly supportive’ of the introduction of 13 locality stewards who work directly with local councillors and are trained to inspect local roads, paths, parks and open spaces.
The report stated: “Whilst it was noted it is early days, the group was very encouraged by this approach and very supportive of its introduction.”
A pilot project to give traditional lengthsmen a greater role in parishes by not only keeping ditches and drains clear, but also fixing potholes on minor roads, was declared a success.
“The group is highly supportive of the council’s recommendation to roll out the use of the Enhanced Lengthsman Scheme and recommends that as many parish councils as possible takes up this option.”
Arrangements for BBLP to work with local suppliers and to encourage young people to join the industry through contact with schools and colleges and an apprentices’ programme were examined.
In its recommendations, the group said it would like to see the council work with BBLP to make it easier for small, local organisations to engage with BBLP and bid for sub-contractor opportunities.
BBLP started the £20 million a year contract to deliver a number of high profile frontline services including highway maintenance, street cleaning and grounds maintenance in September 2013.
The 10-year contract was front-loaded for the first two years with an additional £40 million invested in road infrastructure.
The task and finish group was established to consider progress made with the delivery of public realm services since the start of the new contract and make recommendations for improvements.