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Councils and Highways Agency team up for maintenance contracts

The Highways Agency has teamed up with 10 East Midlands local authorities to procure the UK's first combined local and trunk road improvement contract.

If successful, it is expected that similar partnership contracts could be rolled out across the country.

Four contractors have been selected to work on the Midlands Highways Alliance framework which covers individual schemes worth up to £8M.

It is expected that savings of up to 10% of existing contract costs will be achieved.

"It's the first partnership of its kind and it's leading the way for driving forward real efficiency savings," said the Agency's procurement director Hilary Chipping.

It is hoped more savings will come from sharing innovation across the regions, improving working practices and speeding up work flow across the local authority areas in the East Midlands.

Ex-Highways Agency procurement director and independent consultant Steve Rowsell agreed that this initiative should improve contractor performance.

"It's a very encouraging development and I think a lot of other local authorities could learn from it," he said. "It will show up inconsistencies in processes, standards and specifications and that will result in savings."

Under the Midlands Alliance, local authorities including Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland County Councils will procure an estimated £48M worth of projects in the first year. In addition the Agency will procure another £50M.

In following years, combined investment is expected to increase to £150M a year.

The winning contractors are a Balfour Beatty/Birse joint venture; Carillion; Osborne/Aggregate Industries joint venture; and Tarmac. Other local authority partners in the alliance are the city councils in Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Peterborough.

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