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Regular news: Issue 600 6 Jul 2012

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Road management / Maintenance, Northwest England

Greater Manchester poised to pilot collaborative work programmes

Bringing together the currently separate management of different types of highways work such as resurfacing, street lighting repairs, footway replacement and other works is being explored for Greater Manchester.

Oldham and joint venture partner Mouchel are considering piloting a ‘collaborative programme management’ approach where a programme of work by separate teams carrying out resurfacing, street lighting and footway repairs and potentially different clients is co-ordinated.

David Nicholson, highways director for the Unity and Impact partnerships with Oldham and Rochdale councils, said at Future Highways North: “We currently have co-ordination of schemes and not programmes. The result is that we are not making best use of our resources, and we have four visits each year to the same street on average.”

He outlined how a spatial analysis of resurfacing, street lighting and other works over a three-year period would allow elements to be moved from one year to another in order to achieve efficiency savings and reduce disruption to road users.

Greater Manchester’s authorities have agreed to consider jointly procuring and delivering highways services to achieve efficiencies (LTT 27 April). Transport for Greater Manchester is leading a study by Trowers and Hamlins to establish whether there is a case for a single contract for the conurbation.

This had reviewed the ten authorities’ existing contracts and compared the differing rates across Greater Manchester. The  decisions on whether and how to act on the findings will be down to the Greater Manchester?Combined Authority.

Nicholson said that collaborative delivery across different areas of work on the highways network could be piloted now in one authority and then extended elsewhere, with Oldham and utility companies supportive. The plan follows the collaborative management of major schemes in Northamptonshire, but extends the concept to maintenance work.

Addressing the question of why such collaboration has not happened before in maintenance, given the potential benefits, Nicholson said: “There is a fear of loss of control by programme owners. We need to incentivise all parties. Let’s re-invest the savings so that we all benefit.”

Glyn Oliver, Walsall service manager, underlined the difficulties for the sector. “We can’t even get different parts of the council to collaborate, let alone collaborate with other authorities”.

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