Highways England drops ASCs in four more regions to bring decision making in house

Highways England is to adopt its new asset-led delivery model which it is using in the East Midlands (Area 7) in areas 1, 2, 13 and 14 which are due for renewal. The company will be seeking separate bids for key functions such as design management, routine management and construction work rather than rolling them all into one Asset Support Contract.

Decision making, investment and maintenance plans will be made by Highways England rather than contractors. Area 1 covers Cornwall and Devon; Area 2 is Somerset, Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire; Area 3 is Cumbria and parts of Lancashire; and Area 14 is  Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and North Yorkshire.

By directly engaging suppliers we will help drive down cost and waste, providing the best possible value for money for taxpayers" - Highways England

“We are tasked with delivering the largest roads investment programme in a generation and in order for us to deliver on such a scale at the same time as maintaining the strategic road network, we have to work in a flexible, responsive and efficient way,” said a Highways England spokesperson.

“So we have decided our delivery arrangements need to evolve in some areas, and will therefore be adopting the asset-led delivery model which we are using in the East Midlands (Area 7) in areas 1, 2, 13 and 14.”

The ability to plan investment and maintenance in house will enable the organisation to take more ownership of investment decisions,  the spokesperson said. “We can also increase our intelligence on local factors that influence where work is needed. By directly engaging suppliers we will help drive down cost and waste, providing the best possible value for money for taxpayers.”

The new approach involves four key types of contract:

  • Maintenance and incident response – providing routine maintenance and responding to incidents from Highways England depots;
  • Design – taking briefs from Highways England and turning them into well-defined packages of work, including repairing and reinstating our network after incidents, where necessary; and
  • Specialist services – such as weather forecasting and laboratory testing.
  • Capital project delivery – delivery of work including emergency repairs.

Ahead of the asset delivery model being adopted in Areas 1 and 2 the organisation is extending the existing asset support contract in Area 1 for three months to align the procurment timetable for the neighbouring regions by July 2017 and combine the deals for design and capital project delivery contracts.

“And following further market engagement we will decide whether to combine any of the other contracts.”

Highways England is sticking with Asset Support Contracts  for Areas 4 and 12, which are well down the procurement route, with awards imminent.

“However, we are committed to continually driving improvement in how our roads are maintained, improved and operated, and will continue to explore new ways to deliver across the country,” Highways England said. 

The Highways Agency’s shift to government company status prompted a rethink of its maintenance contracting strategy to take more direct ownership of design, maintenance and construction.

The Agency announced in February that it was going to use East Midlands Area 7 as a test bed to take forward  a change in the way it worked with its supply chain and separate the way it  runs design, routine maintenance and construction in the region.

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