WS ATKINS IS to lose direct control of Somerset's highways maintenance operation from Monday, following a shakeup by the county council.
The county recently won an extra £11.5M of government funding for its roads and said this week it wanted to take more control over its highways work as a result.
WS Atkins took on the running of highways maintenance when Somerset County Council externalised most of its engineering operations in July 1996. The work was outsourced as a result of the government's compulsory competitive tendering policy (NCE 6 June 1996).
Under the contract, 450 blue and white collar highway engineering and environment staff transferred to WS Atkins in a five year partnering agreement.
The contract was extended for a further two years in July this year.
Staff will be told of the restructuring at a joint WS Atkins/Somerset County Council meeting tomorrow. The reorganisation will take effect from 1 October.
'WS Atkins will continue to identify, supervise and carry out maintenance works, but there will be a better steer from county, ' said SCC highways manager Andy Ackerman.
WS Atkins area highway staff are expected to report to a Somerset County Council manager.
The public will be made aware of the changes in a re-badging exercise. WS Atkins staff are expected to identify themselves as Somerset County Council employees.
'These changes were foreseen when the two year extension was negotiated and WS Atkins is happy with a stronger steer from the authority, ' said Ackerman.
'This is partnering working, ' said a WS Atkins spokesman.