Your report (NCE page 6, 27 September) on proposed changes in the running of highways maintenance by WS Atkins for Somerset County Council was misleading.
WS Atkins continues to control highways work in Somerset on behalf of the County Council.
The claims made in the headline and first paragraph provided an incorrect summary of the situation and reflect badly on both the Council and WS Atkins. They have already resulted in worried enquiries from other clients of WS Atkins and I understand they have caused embarrassment to the Council.
Unfortunately the article has also led some WS Atkins staff working on the contract to conclude that they are about to be transferred to the Council - which is certainly not the case.
The County Council and WS Atkins work in partnership together to provide excellent highway services to the citizens of Somerset. It is an indication of the success of this arrangement that the original five year contract between the Council and WS Atkins was extended by a further two years in July this year.
The changes to working arrangements reported in the article are designed to ensure our partnership maintains its effectiveness in future in the light of a recent increase in Government transport funding.
Furthermore, the changes were agreed jointly between the Council and WS Atkins when the contract extension was being negotiated, and were subsequently presented to staff at a joint presentation on 1 October.
Richard Deacon, managing director, WS Atkins Highways & Transportation, Woodcote Grove, Ashley Road, Epsom, Surrey KT18 5BW