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Surface argument

I would question Paul Fleetham's comment (NCE 10 April) that 'as so often in life, you get what you pay for'. Also, a word of caution regarding the two changes to the approach to road maintenance referred to.

Firstly, the use of modern negative textured surfaces on local roads has made the situation worse in terms of whole life costs. Such materials, in comparison with hot rolled asphalt, asphaltic concrete (bituminous macadams) and surface dressing, are generally more expensive, require more frequent replacement, and perform poorly when laid over areas of structural weakness. Reliance on such surfaces is unsustainable with current funding.

Secondly, whilst the partnership approach, using longer term "all in" contracts may maximise value, it is vital that experienced and knowledgeable people are involved in preparing all aspects of contract documentation, and undertaking site supervision.

Even with such an approach, any contractor will always look to legitimately exploit loopholes in the contract and maximise profit. If they exist in a long term contract, this can be costly indeed. The recent footway repairs carried out under the Portsmouth 25 year PFI contract may be a case in point.

Frank Bedford (M),

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