Review launched into 'unacceptable' performance of highways contractor (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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Review launched into 'unacceptable' performance of Hertfordshire County Council's highways contractor Ringway
An in-depth review has been launched into the "unacceptable" performance of the county council’s highways contractor.
Councillors met on November 26 to air complaints about Ringway, including delays to repairs and jobs being listed as complete when either some or none of the work had been carried out.
In response, a Members Advisory Group met on December 4, where councillors laid out a "30-point action plan" with the intention of improving the service.
Liberal Democrat opposition leader Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: "At last the county council has taken seriously the concerns of opposition councillors and residents about failures with its highways service."
The plan focussed broadly on concerns around communication.
The directors and staff of council suppliers have been told to acknowledge reports, deal with them and then update the public.
The review also highlighted the "importance of looking at issues from the point of view of the enquirer and keeping in touch with them rather than allowing enquiries to go into a black hole".
A long-awaited set of changes to the fault reporting system are due to be introduced on December 15, which will remove the standard responses, which have been described as "misleading and over-technical".
Responses to defect reports will also be reviewed, to ensure they "say the right things, in intelligible English, and uphold the service standards we publish".
In the report, Terry Douris, Cabinet Member for Highways and Waste Management, said: "Considerable thought has been given to what actions are being taken.
"I hope that this will provide evidence to show how seriously we take the contents of the motion at council.
"I do want to make it clear that whilst we must and will do better. There is already a vast amount which our staff and contractors do well and which rarely gets mentioned, partly because it is human nature to spot the problem.
Councillor Giles-Medhurst added: "The proof will be if improvements are delivered and fewer complaints are made.
"I am pleased that the Conservatives have listened to our concerns and are acting and that officers will be heavily tasked to push through changes.
"Performance has dropped off especially in the last four or so months and changes have to be made. At last that's been accepted.
"It's totally unacceptable to pay for poor repairs and even worse to be told a repair has been done when it’s not. That has got to stop."
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